CivicMakers facilitated our signature Learning Lab program, a hands-on learning and engagement experience for cross-departmental teams in public institutions, with the City of San José in 2020. This was our first Learning Lab conducted entirely virtually. The pilot was a unique collaboration between HR and IT, blending staff capacity-building (Human Resources) and San José’s OneCity Workplace intranet initiative (IT).
The inaugural cohort was brought together into three cross-departmental teams to learn about and apply human-centered design tools and techniques to a key City challenge. Teams were each assigned a unique challenge, including: How Might We (1) create an engaged and informed workforce, (2) optimize virtual productivity, (3) improve collaboration in a distributed workspace?
- VALIDATE the OneCity Workplace premise and objectives
- DEVELOP a new generation of leaders with an innovation mindset and the knowledge, skills, and abilities to identify and implement human-centered solutions
- FOSTER a cultural shift at the City to embrace and encourage creative, collaborative problem-solving
Ultimately, teams and individuals experience and work through the human-centered design process, which is just as important as the resulting product/prototype. A Demo Day prototype could be anything from a redesigned internal process or procedure to a new way of communicating information to residents. However, ensuring that teams have the ability to experience the human-centered design process, a framework for creative, collaborative problem-solving, and apply it to their day-to-day is the ultimate goal.
When it comes to shifting mindsets and helping people to embrace change/innovation, we consider it critical that a training program be interactive, adaptable and practical. Human-centered design is complex and collaborative, which is why we design the program for teams with hands-on project work on challenges that they are currently facing. Our Discovery phase demonstrates to participants that we actually use the human-centered design process to train others by identifying the greatest needs and adapting our format to meet them. We also iterate on our design throughout to respond to real-time needs as they arise.
We value individuals and interactions, over processes and tools. A working product, over a detailed paper proposal. Responding to change, over following a fixed plan. Collaboration with people served, over building for them. To achieve this, we work closely with participants to support their learning and problem-solving to a point where they feel confident to move forward, as opposed to forcing arbitrary deadlines for them to move through the design process.