Working Knowledge

Working Knowledge Expert  | Splash Programme

Working Knowledge helps to bridge the gap between education and the workplace by advising and supporting young people (aged 16-19) in education, as they collaborate to develop a business strategy over one day.

The WK expert’s role is to share their business skills and knowledge to help prepare the next generation of employees and entrepreneurs.

I volunteered for a one day event run for City of Bristol College students. It was facilitated by Working Knowledge and gave students the opportunity to collaborate on a set business challenge, working together to explore their business ideas, test and refine them (with feedback from the experts) then communicate their best idea for a new product or service to the expert panel. Splash events are designed to support emergent skills of decision making, team building and ideas generation, and give young people a taste of some of the more entrepreneurial skills they will need in the workplace of the not too distant future.

Working Knowlege Expert | Immerse Programme

I facilitated a workshop, as part of the 5-day Immerse Programme for a cross-functional team from Weston College, Weston-Super-Mare, West Somerset. The purpose of the Immerse Programme was to engender a more business-focused and entrepreneurial culture amongst the College staff. The staff I was assigned to help had been set a brief entitled ‘Campus Image Attracting Talent’, which they received 30 minutes before meeting me.

I facilitated and managed the team’s first workshop, where they collaboratively explored ideas to address the marketing challenges and opportunities, which were outlined in the brief. I shared some tools and approaches from Service Design, which could help them understand and gain empathy for their target audience of 15 year olds.

One of the challenges of the brief, was how to gain deeper insight into the lives of their service users in ways that would allow the team to better understand the:
• capabilities
• preferences
• goals
• needs
of the 15 year old boys or girls they were trying to attract to Weston College.

A key message I introduced to my Immerse team was the benefits of applying design research methods to allow them to see Weston College through the eyes of their potential future students.

As I perceived their business challenge, Weston College needed to adopt a more people-centred approach, to reveal actionable insights to inform their marketing strategies. Listening to the team explore some of the issues highlighed by the challenge, the problems of engaging a 15 year old audience seemed to have arisen because their latent needs and aspirations were not being met by the current educational offer and marketing models.
Like any people, 15 year olds are complex individuals. Their underlying needs are rarely evident or articulated, so cannot be easily understood through traditional market research techniques.

Design offers tools and approaches that can help organisations gain insights into customers. Successful innovation requires a deep understanding of their human context, including environment, daily routines, concerns and aspirations. In seeking ‘insight’ the team needed to frame better questions for the 15 year olds they wished to engage and understand…

• What is their attitude and expectations of further education?
• What are their aspirations? hopes? dreams?
• Who are their key influencers on educational decisions they make? (family, friends and other networks)
• How do we, as an educational organisation, best fit into their lives?
• What kind of journey do they take towards higher education and where/when are the key influencing points on the journey when important decisions are made?
• What/where/when are opportunities for ‘moments of touch’ with Weston College, which could be supported with materials, events and experiences, that meet the customer’s information needs and support them/influence them to make the right decisions?

The challenge was also to broaden my team’s team thinking to engage with the wider ‘service ecology’ of Weston College in the community and beyond, which affect the other influencers and stakeholders, such as parents, potential employers, etc., etc., We began to map this service ‘ecosystem’ in a group exercise.

In the workshop, I introduced the following tools from Service Design, which I thought would support my team to try a design-led approach to inform their thinking:
• empathy mapping
• personas
• customer journey mapping

I explained some of these Service Design methods and encouraged my team to try them out in their next team workshop.