I work at the intersection of social impact, human-centered design, and tech innovation.
These are the foundations of my practice.
Outcomes over Outputs
Outputs are “what we make” - emergency funds, a career day.
Outcomes are “the change we make” - ongoing housing stability; a shifted mindset about belonging in STEM.
Outputs are a means to an end. They change as we progress toward outcomes. In a perfect world, all outputs would become obsolete!
It’s easy to fall in love with output. We care about the work we put energy into.
But to really make change:
We want to fall in love with the problem and its outCOME;
We want to stay flexible about the outPUT we build.
A first step in all my projects is to identify and commit to the outcome.
Great solutions come from deeply understanding people and their needs.
Human-centered design is a problem-solving approach that puts the end user at the center of all solutioning. Investing time in building empathy (not sympathy) means we know where to intervene, and helps identify the right intervention to pursue.
Human-centered design starts with discovery.
Discovery can look abstract, academic, or mushy.
In fact, it’s the rock-solid foundation on which every great strategy and service is built.
Discovery includes observing people where they live and work, deeply understanding their worlds, documenting the barriers they meet and the strengths & advantages they could leverage, and learning how their environments serve them - or fail to.
The insights from discovery will power your strategy & services for years.
Test early & often
Would you rather be the agency that invested years and millions into digitizing their intake forms, only to have their officers flat out refuse to use them?
Or would you rather be like Rockford, IL, which eradicated veteran homelessness by investing in… bus fare?
Big bangs are great for the universe, but not so much for human-facing products & services.
Ambitious visions are critical - AND we want to have confidence they are the right ones to build. This means testing early and evaluating often.
Once we have an imaginative, creative, evidence-backed solution concept, it’s time to start rapidly and leanly testing into the riskiest parts of it.
Forget investing millions and years. Let’s start with 2 weeks to build a paper prototype and 15 humans to try it out.
I’ll craft a meaningful vision for you - and with it, a roadmap of small incremental steps to get there with confidence that we’re building the right thing with the right impact.
I say evidence instead of data because data (in the usual sense) is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding “what’s really happening."
Most organizations treat research and data as two separate disciplines. I see them as two sides of the same coin - just different ways to gather real-world input to get insights.
Evidence can include: clicks in a digital product; survey responses; qualitative input from observational studies; and landscape scans.
Evidence must be gathered and used ethically.
>> As an evidence-backed strategist, I build feedback loops into all initiatives.
>> As a purpose-driven strategist, I recognize the imperative to gather data with respect for human rights, inclusivity, and transparency.
I follow guidelines from data.org for equitable, fair data use
Criteria-based decision making
We've all been there: two senior leaders are arguing passionately for their vision of what the organization should do while the rest of the team shrinks into the background.
Usually, the loudest person wins the day.
There’s a better way. By deciding as a team what criteria should be used to decide a direction (knocks down the most important user barrier! fills a gap in the ecosystem! has high Beta-test uptake! can be executed within our budget!), we can then objectively assess which direction actually meets those criteria.
This is a healthy part of “falling in love with the outcome and not the output.”
Nothing is worse than getting 6 months down the road in a project and discovering a team has wildly diverging ideas of whether they’re on a path to success.
Creating a shared baseline up for “what success looks like” and how we’ll know (quantifiably!) if we’re moving the needle is essential for healthy projects.
We can, and should, healthily fight about the tactics to get to success.
But we want to be 100% aligned on the goal - the outcome.
I create clear, team-agreed outcome statements at the outset of each project, and OKRs to align on objectives & progress along the way.
You’ll always know where we’re headed and how we’re doing.