I led the Design and User Experience team, defining the approaches, methodologies and processes used, from research to execution at this education company in Nairobi, which is part of the African Leadership Group. We underwent a number of changes in direction, structure and strategy during my time there, as well as changing to full remote working during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Xcelerator is a 6-month leadership development programme aimed at the B2B market. Collaborating with Learning Designers, Programme Facilitators and the Business Development team I worked on the digital and in-person experience for our clients and programme participants. I used design system and service design principles to establish patterns of interaction with and reporting to our clients, in-programme space design and post-intensive session reflection and action plans for participants, which resulted in improved participant engagement during and after the programme.
My responsibilities also included branding design for the programme, managing freelancers and in-house designers to deliver printed and digital marketing collateral, and lead generation websites for multiple ‘flavours’ of Xcelerator, such as Data Science and Wildlife Conservation.
Xcelerator included two 360 feedback sessions for participants. These showed us that existing feedback software solutions were not flexible enough for our needs - or the rapidly changing workplace. Working closely with the CEO, Product Manager, and an external strategy consultant, we defined major problems related to the quality and irregularity of feedback in organisations. Following interviews with more than 40 professionals across Africa and researching academic literature on the subject, we drew on in-house expertise in pedagogy, and learning and development to build competency models for a feedback system. Our primary goals were reducing power distance and making feedback a more routine and rewarding aspect of work life for both the giver and receiver.
Our initial pilot consisted of a small cohort of 12 participants who created their own ‘Personal Board of Directors’. Using our competency model we created a series of questionnaires on Typeform, with different variants depending on work experience. Results were manually collated and emailed with commentary and suggestions to the participant. Following an assessment of the pilot we began a second phase with a much larger group of roughly 80 participants. An external development house began to build some automation into the processes and some frontend components, although results were still reviewed by us to ensure quality control. We were due to assess the progress on the product when the pandemic hit in early 2020 and the product was shelved.
Key learnings from the pilots:
- Bottlenecks can happen really quickly, with some people being in high demand to be part of personal boards of directors, either due to seniority, perceived power or insight
- Attitudes to feedback being extremely varied given a country, culture, organisation, or industry, showing the need for further personalisation or specialisation depending on the scenario
- The value of giving feedback not being apparent to some board members, resulting in rapid falling off of engagement and the quality of feedback received
The last transformation at the company while I was working at ALX was known as ‘The Room’. Envisaged as a talent platform and community hub, I was responsible for ensuring that customer experience was foundational to the new direction. I led the design team in creating a prototype that detailed a typical week at The Room, which we used in extensive customer development interviews to validate the proposition. Findings from the interviews were used to create a business model canvas, and to write a proposal for a donation from the Mastercard Foundation.
During a drive to help the whole company become more customer focussed, I lead interview training with colleagues from all parts of the business to help them gain actionable insights and qualitative data through targeted customer interactions. I also created ‘The Room approach to Customer Experience’ to give colleagues a reference for design principles and create a framework for customer discovery, testing and iteration. This guide is still in use with the company today.
Pathfinders were a new function created in the business to help guide customers through their career - not just in job seeking, but in many other opportunities such as networking, speaking engagements, mentorships, and learning experiences. I lead a design project to help determine the key moments and artifacts needed for the service, and which also demonstrated the effort needed by Pathfinders and the support teams to service individual clients. This resulted in a reassessment of the costs related to the programme due to the Pathfinder caseload having to be reduced, helping the business create more accurate projections about long term growth.