This weekend I participated in the Twin Cities session of the Global Service Jam, 48 hours of doing and not saying. Pat 1 talked about identifying the problem, and here in part 2 I talk about our solution.

Our problem statement was something like: “Pat needs awareness to engage with others so that they can make the changes they want to in their community”. Pat was our gender-neutral “user” that we designed for. We called our project K-Pow! (Knowledge is Power).

Part 2: The Solution

The subgroup I was in was interested in an analog solution to the awareness and engagement problem. While I honestly can’t remember all the ideas we talked about, we must have had a ton of them because it took us awhile to settle on an idea to print (possibly personalized) community information on the back of a receipt from a store like CVS or Walgreens.

I remember that we talked a lot about how this might work.We had lots of discussions about the following:

What kind of information do we use? Here we talked about information from the City and how Minneapolis already has a pretty substantial online portal to their information; you can create an account and manage your e-mail or SMS updates, selecting what you want to hear about. We also thought local election information, local community centers, resources, and non-profits would be good to include.

Where would we get the information? We had the idea to create a portal of information to pull from, then realized that these must already exist in some capacity. We didn’t focus on this aspect of solving the problem, we were more interested in the delivery of information.

How might we customize it to individuals? Since our original discussion was about how a community should be able to choose what they need, we wanted a way for users to be able to somehow inform what information they get. We also talked about creepy Target and how they know you’re pregnant before your dad does. But we also talked about creating user accounts like with the city (above), or an opt-in program associated with a rewards card at the store. We figured the simplest thing would be to customize the information to a local geography.

How can we direct people to more information so they have choices about how they get their information? We decided a web link wasn’t enough, so for city (Minneapolis) services we talked about including the 3-1-1 phone number.

These are just some examples of what we talked about. We got training in prototying and testing during the second day, so next we built a prototype and we had to test it on other jammers and the organizers. We started with a giant receipt with our presentation in mind; we figured that when we shared our idea with the group they would need to be able to see what it was. Turns out this was a little distracting to our test subjects, so we made a smaller one.

My favorite thing about the testing was that we immediately saw some big issues- the main one being that if people don’t know what it is we’re doing and they are not prompted to look at the back of the receipt, they might not look at it. Even when the receipt was obnoxiously huge, some people didn’t look at it.

Another issue was with the type of information- people liked the idea of community center schedules and local events but did not like the idea of a sample or actual ballot, one person said that they liked that general information was passive but that voting information seemed pushy.

Our final prototype incorporated changes based on user input, and we did a little skit to the group at the end of Sunday to share what we did. We also created a short video you can find on the Global Service Jam site here.

It seemed like we didn’t have a lot of time to troubleshoot all of these things but the fast pace certainly got us doing when we would get stuck thinking. Overall it felt great to actually create something- even if it has a long way to go before it could become a reality. The people in my group were creative and fun, and I think we had a great time coming up with ideas that we never would have through of on our own.

It was neat to learn the process and I look forward to using the ideas in my own work; I am kind of an internal research consultant at my job and it can be challenging to figure out what the audience that reads my reports needs or wants the reports to be. I think some of the interviewing and user testing could be really helpful to make my work more accessible, relevant, and interesting to our coalition partners and others. Plus, prototyping is super fun :)