Service Design

A woman's face with with the words, "Creativity Never Gets Old" written to the left. Her face has a transparent rectangle that goes from the bridge of her nose to above her eyebrows. She appears older and grayer in this section of the picture, but her forehead and hair above the rectangle and below it featuring the tip of her nose, smile and neck appear to be younger.

DAS champions the well-being and dignity of veterans, those with disabilities and older adults. As an internal research and design resource in the San Francisco Human Service Agency (where DAS is housed), I managed the strategy, facilitation, prototyping, deliverables, and impact measurement.

Role: Project Lead & Lead Facilitator

Year: 2014

Challenge: Policy and procedural changes across several DAS programs posed frequent challenges to the Intake division. Their role was to onboard clients to departmental services, while service requirements for participation changed frequently. The complexity deepened when these employees left the office to onboard clients in hospitals and other locations. The employees’ workplace at the time was not set up to work fully remotely. Employees working offsite on any given day or week would be unaware of new policies and practices. How could a three-day design sprint help all employees in this division to stay current with ongoing policy and procedural changes?

An orange wall with long, white, butcher paper. The paper is half full with different color sticky notes (yellow, orange, pink and blue) that have writing on them in a black marker. The sticky notes are arranged in different rows and columns, following a hybrid process map and service blueprint.
Making a HYBRID SERVICE BLUEPRINT & process map

Facilitation & Clarifying the Problem Space: We recruited five employees who experience policy and procedural changes in different ways. We then mapped the process, relevant obstacles, their felt experience and systemic causes as well as the journey of how these frequent changes were communicated to the division and shared internally.

Co-Synthesis & -Generation of Hypotheses to Test: We teased out systemic causes, listed possible improvements to test, prioritized them, then invited all employees in the division to review the work, offer their own suggestions for improvements, and finally vote on them.

Photo of one person with lighter complexion. They are writing something with their right hand. They are wearing a long-sleeved, green shirt. Their dark hair is tied back with a hair clip. They are facing a whiteboard with lots of bullet pointed writing on it. They seem to be standing, holding a clipboard.

Experimentation: We built paper and digital prototypes to test and measure with clear success metrics. We summarized our insights and proposed improvements to the DAS Intake leadership team with 30-, 60- and 90-day milestones for implementation.

Equity Considerations: Employees and clients came from a variety of demographic backgrounds, job classifications and levels of power (formal and informal) to provide a more holistic understanding of the problem and ways to make improvements.

Outputs: (1) A redesigned manual to find policy and procedural changes easier. (2) A template with keywords to email changes internally. (3) A shared document all employees could access for weekly policy and procedural updates. (4) Designated technology helpers in the division to help coworkers use this shared document. (5) A weekly meeting agenda template to be distributed beforehand and notes sent afterward. (6) Cell phones to employees in the field to check email and call in for the weekly meetings. (7) People designated to organize and clean up the division’s shared folder on their internal network that contained details about all policy and procedural changes.

Impact: Survey data from DAS Intake employees on pre- and post-changes showed there was a: (1) 30% reduction in employee stress when trying to find policy and procedural changes in emails. (2) A 50% drop in the amount of time looking through paper manuals about policy and procedural changes. (3) A 20% to 40% decrease in the time spent asking supervisors and coworkers respectively about changes to policies and procedures. (4) Finally, two hours were saved per day when emailing.