How did we tackle the challenge?

Establishing the Team
Since the beginning of the process, the group realised that having different cultural backgrounds was something that had to be embraced. The group used the Team Canvas and Stinky Fish tool to create openness between the members and promote a safe sharing environment.

The Process
and uncertain are the words that better describe the group’s first approach to design thinking. As Brown (2009) well states: “Insofar as it is open-ended, open-minded, and iterative, a process fed by design thinking will feel chaotic to those experiencing for the first time.”

As a team we decided to use the project management and collaboration platform ‘Trello’. This helped the team visualise from any location the process and tasks to-do, creating alignment between the members. Also, it is a great tool for documenting the process.

The Double Diamond was the framework chosen for its clarity and structure to approach the brief. Dan Nessler (2016) “revamped double diamond” helped to understand the process at a deeper level and pull the team out of uncertainty.

The team started with the first phase of the Double Diamond: Research. We agreed to do desk research individually first, to understand better the context and problem from a systemic, cultural and personal perspective. We found out that:

  • The number of on zero-hours contracts in the UK has hit a record high of 910,000 (Resolution Foundation, 2016)
  • Up to 80% of homeless people have mental health problems, and the average age of death for a homeless person is 47 (Crisis, 2017)
  • Cultural issues: A quarter of homeless people said they feel degraded, worthless and ignored (Emmaus, 2016)
  • 57% of homeless people have been unemployed for three years or more (Crisis, 2017)

To complement our secondary research, we interviewed with the Project Manager of Pret A Manger, Hind Meflah. Since 2008, this company has accepted the challenge to offer a job to people with of through the apprentice program “The Rising Stars.” The program employs 50 people and trains them for 14 weeks followed by a formal employment contract; however, only 25% of the participants keep the job due to psychological problems, relapse in drugs or alcohol or not being able to secure accommodation.

The team obtained a valuable insight: despite having a job, people fall back into old patterns and end up on the streets.

The team began to converge. We synthesized and clustered the findings that led us to three ‘How might we…’ questions and brainstormed ideas for each of them using the tool “Crazy 8s”and building on them as a group activity. The group decided to use the Decision Matrix to help us narrow the ideas efficiently: user impact versus implementation effort. It was a rational and logic approach that made every team member aware of each . Google Design Sprint Kit (2018) explains that “The matrix is a simple table or diagram that helps the team judge all the ideas based on a set of criteria that is most useful for the goals of the sprint. The most common is to consider user impact versus implementation effort. Ideally, you want ideas that are either high impact/low effort or high impact/high effort.” The team went from 15 ideas to 3 final ideas.

This ideas were pitched to members of the Street Support network. We understood that our ideas were not solving a relevant problem or were not going to solve THE problem. Even so, the feedback was important for the process, we learned that mental health issuer were one of the principal causes that keeps people to return to a working environment.

After feedback we went back to research and concluded that giving people with live experience of homelessness is not sufficient to end up homelessness, a job is not enough.

This powerful insight helped us reframe the challenge to:

“How might we support people with lived homelessness experience to retain their job and live a happy life?

T.I.S went back to ideation and came up with the big idea: Keep Hub, a physical place were people with lived experience of homelessness can attend to receive services of personalised mentorship, training and share common spaces for social safe gatherings.

We refined the idea using a Customer Journey Map to visualise the solution from the users’ point of view. The tool was helpful to develop and improve the touchpoints and recognise our weaknesses.Their feedback and comments were extremely valuable to make improvements in our final idea.

Keep Hub is founded on three pillars:

  • Mentorship: People with lived experience of homelessness can obtain mentorship independently from their employers and help them go through this complex stage of leaving the streets and maintaining a job.
  • Training: Companies can donate time and develop workshops and trainings for people with lived experience of homelessness.
  • Community space: a safe place where people with lived experience of homelessness can assist to meet new people who are currently facing the same situation () and be inspired by others success stories.

One of our findings was that employers were willing to hire people with lived experience of homelessness but felt insecure of doing it because they did not know what to expect from them, will they show up the next day? Will they be able to face every day challenge? With Keep Hub this uncertainties could be reduced, our solution means:

  • Keep Hub reduces the pressure and cost
  • People with live experience of homelessness will be monitored and helped if the begin struggling
  • A better skilled employee

The following wireframes were developed by a fellow team member — Pedro Marques- to show how people with lived experience of homelessness, Keep Hub mentors and employees can connect and keep track of their progress and check out scheduled trainings/workshops.

What about the financing?
Even though this aspect was not asked we decided brainstorm a proposal.

Take aways
Design thinking is a user-centred problem-solving process that challenges teams to continually confront their findings and insights to their results to refine the problem, idea or outcome; it is not about completing phases until a solution is reached, on the contrary, it is about revising and returning to a previous stage with feedback to create new possibilities.

The group’s reflection on teamwork conclude in 3 remarkable learnings:

  • Creative conflict is good: Is a result of a diverse team with a different point of views but committed to a specific goal but overall engaged with the team. The creative conflict led to passionate discussions that turned on the magic: it forced the team to keep questioning the full terrain and explore new possibilities and most importantly build upon ideas. Tim Brown (2009) “In an interdisciplinary team there is collective ownership of ideas, and everybody takes responsibility for them”. Building on this, Scott Belsky (2018) affirms: “Creativity is nourished by conflict.”
  • Diversity is an asset: Having a diverse team can enhance ideation process and permit members to build on ideas for stronger outcomes.
  • Feedback Sessions and check-ins are a must: Feedbacks are gifts given with sincere appreciation for the other, and if done correctly they can help unleash creative confidence; David Kelley (2018) “Creative confidence is the notion that you have big ideas, and that you have the ability to act on them.” Feedback helps to improve and grow as an individual and increases also the teams’ effectiveness. Check-ins and Check-outs help members to be aware of how the teammates are feeling and living the process can make a huge difference.

NOTE: Our solution developed for the Homelessness Manchester Partnership, KEEP HUB, was chosen to be presented for a round of funding.

Before ending this Medium post, I wanted to thank my teammates: Pedro, Yugu, Kathy, Amir and Renato for the lovely experience of working together, I learned so much from all of you. T.I.S was the perfect example of a high-performance team that took every conflict and turned it into pure creativity while creating a safe environment to share ideas. Thank you for being such amazing professionals and friends. Hope our paths cross again for another challenge. You guys are ACES.

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