Wow, I can’t believe it is my senior year! Looking back over my three years in iDiploma, I realize just how much I have accomplished. I have worked with Porsche and Chick-fil-A, I have facilitated design thinking training sessions, I have built a website, conducted interviews, worked on a student-led education magazine, and so much more.
Now, about five months after the end of the Chick-fil-A design brief, and as I begin to reflect more on my time in iDiploma, I realize I need to take a moment to reflect on my other major design brief.
Though I was working with another major company like Porsche, this brief had a completely different feel to it. Maybe it was because I had experience working with a client on a design brief, or perhaps because the project had a feel more similar to one of our own internal design briefs, or simply because we had more people on our team, but I feel like I enjoyed it a lot more.
We started off this design brief by looking at the Memorandum of Understanding, which detailed what CFA expected us to do and our contacts at CFA. This helped us create an outline for our project and set goals to meet along the way.
Our very first step was understanding their process; the more we understood of it, the more of it we would be able to keep. We learned how to use their tools by individually summarizing what we thought was the main idea of that step in design thinking language. That process and summary can be found here. It was important that the end product be primarily their language and methods because it would make it easier for them to transition to and to feel more like something they would design. Once we understood their language and took a look at their current tools – a selection of paint chips and a field guide – we then began brainstorming ideas for new tools.
After coming up with some ideas, we knew that we needed to understand how people felt about the current process, so we began to interview current employees at the Hatch as well as some of our own internal people who had experience teaching design thinking, to get a feel for how people viewed the current tools and their design thinking process. Here is a list of our contacts at MVPS as well as the questions we wanted to ask them, a list of questions we drafted and refined to guide our interviews, the emails we wrote and edited to send to the employees and design thinking coaches to ask for an interview (we scheduled these interviews via Sign Up Genius, but the form has unfortunately expired), and the notes we took during the interviews.
Having gathered all this data, we then began to distill the information we gathered. The big themes? Employees barely knew about the existence of the tools, and those who did wished they were more usable on a daily basis (and more portable). From here, we had a direction. First, we did some research into other design thinking tool kits as well as how these kits are crafted. We wanted to figure out the best design to use for CFA. We began to design more simplistic tools that were more usable outside of the design thinking classroom and were geared towards the workplace. My team and I used Lucidpress to design the tools after we had prototyped some tools and activities based off of their current tools and our own tools. For the prototyping, we took some already-existing tools as well as their own process, and merged them and renamed them to be cool CFA-related names. You can see that document here. This was definitely the hardest part not just because of the graphic design aspect, but also because we had to write the descriptions and instructions, which required adherance to their own process mixed in with new language that we thought needed to be added based off of our data and feedback. And, we also had to adhere to their brand requirements, in order to meet their standards and be able to be published. This meant the font, font size, color scheme, logos, use of the CFA name, and other technical details had to be exactly right, which required a lot of checking and rechecking of the manuel. We also personally designed the graphics, to have a simplistic design and to not have to deal with photo copyright issues, which meant we had even more work ahead of us to come up with cute icons and designs that were both engaging and professional. Pre-meeting, this was our descriptions of the tools as well as how we viewed them. You can see our version 1 here:
Then, as any good designer would, we got feedback from the people who were actually going to be using the tools: the employees and design thinking coaches themselves. We scheduled a meeting at CFA headquarters where we presented our prototype with the help of a fun flash lab exercise. Here is the outline of that meeting. In this meeting, we presented our prototype to the coaches, explaining what we had created and then letting them ask questions, share their initial thoughts, and provide us with their wants, needs, hopefuls, and feedback in general so we could improve our tools for them. You can see our complete document of all the feedback we received as well as our next action steps from that meeting here.
From that meeting, we felt invigorated: while we had some things to change, we also knew that the coaches and our CFA contacts from the Hatch had loved our work and the direction in which we were going.
Our next steps really boiled down to more closely adhering to the brand standards and lingo, graphics, and clearer content. We decided to better define what all of the tools meant as well as what the purpose of that tool was in order to better communicate that to our users. From that feedback document, we then revisted our tool descriptions and improved them based off that feedback. That new tool description document can be found here.
Graphically, we decided to switch to full scale photos, which involved a lot of royalty-free photo site searching, as we knew we had to have the perfect photo for each tool.
We then decided to combine the photos, decriptions, and activites in one large document, instead of separating them out, so we could visually see what it would all be like. This document, called Copy Final, served as the launching point to our final prototype. This was the primary document that we made writing edits on so we had everything in one place. Lucidpress served as the final final place, that was reserved for mostly non-editable material only, as Google Docs is easier to mass edit on.
Finally, many weeks and hours later, we had perfected the tools. While we had decided to print the tools in a bound booklet for the first meeting, we decided to keep it digital for the final meeting – as we would be sending the tools to them digitally anyway, to let them print them how they wanted – and instead use a slightly outdated printed version simply to visually show how the tools would be displayed after printing.
As usual with final meetings, it required a lot of prep. We had to create talking notes, review those talking notes, assign speaking roles, and create a slide deck that was visually appealing and related to what we wanted to talk about. You can find our talking points and final slide deck below.
And here is our final copy of our tools: Tools
Over all, aside from all the graphic design experience under my belt, I feel like I really learned a lot about how design thinking works in the real world. I got to see that the things I am learning about, doing, and implementing are things that companies value and encourage in their corporations (at least at CFA). I also loved designing these tools because it really stretched my knowledge of our own design thinking process and the tools we use in Innovation Diploma as well. I really felt like this design brief challenged me in all the right ways but also appealed to my strengths in writing, communicating, leading, and eye for visual appeal. I can’t wait to see what challenges I will take on next in my final year of iD!