We start with people and design for impact.
Engaging your team
For us, facilitation is the art of leading people through a process toward agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership, and productivity from all involved. Whatever your goal, good facilitation makes it easier to reach.
We’ve honed our facilitation techniques, and gotten our flip chart sea legs, leading 300+ workshops and planning sessions. Our human-centered design approach enlists participants – whether they be board members, your staff, stakeholders, or citizens – as experts and designers.
Together, we avoid the frustration and monotony of most gatherings by creating active, memorable, and highly productive sessions. Participants leave with artifacts – tangible, creative reminders – and the sense that their contributions were meaningful and will genuinely be used.
Board Planning Sessions Stakeholder Convenings Project Management
Understanding your needs
An early step to solving problems is ensuring that you’ve identified the right problem and have a clear sense of what’s actually going on, and how it is affecting your and your stakeholders. Whatever your problem, open inquiry and thoughtful, effective listening can begin to unearth the roots of a system or issue. A combination of research techniques – and a little curiosity – help guide the way.
While no two research projects are alike, our common techniques include deep-dive stakeholder interviews, on-site (ethnographic) observations, actually focus-ed groups, surveying, and data analysis. We gather information that empowers your own decision-making, and package it in digestible and elegant ways.
We can build a broad base for understanding your environment or, if you’ve got a specific question that requires deep study and solid recommendations, we can focus our efforts there. Our background research has informed decision-makers dealing with the opioid overdose epidemic, capital access in underinvested communities, and the launching of a new museum.
Stakeholder Interviews Data Analysis Sector Review Stakeholder Surveying
Surveying Focus Groups Review of Peer Institutions
Designing with you
“Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” – Herb Simon, Nobel Laureate in Economics
We believe that every project is a design project. By encouraging creativity, teamwork, empathy and experimentation, we align disparate points of view and empower you to make effective decisions. For us, design thinking is a discipline. We believe that finding the right solution is an iterative, collaborative and ultimately creative process – informed by careful investigation, thoughtful analysis, and strategic insight.
Design is evident in every aspect of our work. We begin by, together, designing an approach and a plan to achieve your project’s goals. We use the tools of human-centered design to cast you and your stakeholders as experts and creators. For some engagements, this looks like guided brainstorms to imagine new possibilities. For others, it’s a series of thought exercises to consider inventive strategies. Our engaging and accessible deliverables always aim to inspire and encourage ongoing innovation.
Program Development Architectural Design Space Planning Master Planning Prototyping Workshops
Managing change with adaptive strategy
A human-centered approach to research and design can help lead to breakthrough solutions, no matter the problem. But even great solutions fail because of a lack of strategy, or a misaligned approach.
We employ the principles of user research and design to help organizations create breakthrough solutions to intractable problems. For organizations looking to concretely align mission and impact, we create strategic plans that are highly goal-oriented, quantifiable, and (with enough grit and gumption) achievable.
Listening to stakeholders is the heart of our process. Our four-phase engagement begins with the design of a process and research protocol specifically for each project. We employ an array of research methods in order to deeply understand the needs of the organization and its constituents. Research insights reveal patterns and priorities that empower internal stakeholders to make effective decisions. Lastly, we capture the process and outcomes in a well-designed plan that drills down below visions and priorities to identify specifics such as initiatives, timelines, metrics, and roles.
As opposed to more traditional, glossy reports, which often sit on the shelf, our tactical plans belong on the desk. Backed by research, encompassing a wide range of stakeholder voices, and designed to be easily accessible to staff and adaptable to changing political and social currents, our plans serve as navigational tools that encourage and empower organizations to experiment, innovate, and make course corrections as needed to better achieve their mission.
Strategic Planning Stakeholder Mapping Operations Planning Visioning