Strategy & Facilitation

"BenefitsCal" is written in white and orange letters. Near it is the outline of a white bear in a circle. The circle seems to be a sunset/sunrise on the top and green earth on the bottom half. The background is blue.

All 58 California counties have been moving towards a single system for the public to apply for food, medical and unemployment assistance. The Human Services Agency administers these programs for San Francisco residents. As an internal strategy and facilitation resource in the agency, I managed, led or supported the service design blueprinting and process mapping of the programs. I also oversaw the visual design used to communicate the strategy and provided guidance as a member of the strategic leadership team.

Role: Manager, Strategic Advisor, Lead or Supporting Facilitator

Year: 2019-2021

Challenge: For the first time, all Californian counties overseeing the largest human services programs will be using a single, public-facing and internal system. This has required significant service design and organizational culture changes to prepare for the transition. How could I and my team best support this massive, multi-year effort in our agency?

Strategy: We co-developed with program directors and executives the onboarding session to inform managers and supervisors about this project. We championed frequent communication and feedback loops about the changes with the frontline teams who serve the public. We also (1) mapped current state processes to identify obstacles to remove before transitioning to the new system, (2) surfaced the idea to prototype and test a service as part of the future state, which was successfully done, (3) provided technical assistance to develop an internal tool to test that prototype, and (4) finally mapped future service designs. Co-producing change with diverse employees as well as the public and community partners is a core part of our approach. Unfortunately, this engagement was limited to only working internally with colleagues.

Screenshot of a MURAL/online facilitation tool. There are 12 rows of yellow sticky notes. The row headings are blurred as is white text in two red hexagons on the left side and what text in two block dots at the top.

Equity Considerations: Participants numbered from five to 20+ across our 21 total facilitated sessions to map current and future service designs. They came from a variety of demographic backgrounds as well as levels of formal and informal power within the agency. Our equity-centered design approach attempted to honor their lived experiences as well as our clients and community partners who were absent.

Outputs: (1) Seven, detailed, hybrid service design and process maps. (2) A list of systemic obstacles and recommendations based on these maps. (3) An online form to help colleagues test a possible future state. (4) An accessible visual of the strategy, values, mission, goals and success metrics of this multi-year project.

Impact: (1) Prototyping a part of the future state helped the project leadership team to make decisions grounded in data. (2) The visualized strategy to communicate changes was used repeatedly in feedback loop sessions with frontline teams.