Design Thinking Applied to Meetings


As CWDS User Research & Design Director, I often say “everything is experience design,” not just the digital services we are building, but also way we work together to deliver those services. Recently I shared at a recent All Staff Meeting to explain how our team has been able to leverage User Experience (UX) Design principles and techniques to improve the experience and   usefulness of the organizations All-Staff Meeting.

This announcement was the first of a newly revamped All Staff Meeting designed to make better use of staff time and connect us all to our product vision. CWDS Executives asked me to form an ad hoc team to redesign the meeting, which had over 100 attendees and had grown stale as our team had grown in size and mission. The ad hoc meeting redesign team included representatives from the Project Management Office (PMO), Communications Team, and the User Research and Design Team. Our first step was to identify the problem space: morale and attendance concerns, meeting format effectiveness, effort to produce the meeting vs benefits of holding it, and understanding who champions the meeting design.

The next step was identifying research goals: understanding attendees’ experience of what’s working and what isn’t, solicit improvement ideas, and relating the All-Staff to overall organizational communication. Research methods consisted of a “flash survey to get a quick pulse and set a quantitative baseline, and one-on-one user interviews with a dozen people representing different attendee groups from across the organization. The team then synthesized the research to surface pain points and insights.

Based on the research results and brainstorming ways to address the pain points and needs of attendees the Communications Team, is now empowered to  own the meeting, to creatively structure it  to address  themes in a now one-hour meeting to be held no more than once a month. The themes are:

  • Vision and Mission
  • Product Progress
  • Celebrate Our Team
  • Living Our Values/Culture
  • General Announcements

CWDS is excited to apply experience design principles to all areas of our operations, not just how we design and develop software for our users. It makes for a more engaged work environment where people are collaborative, accountable, and empowered.

About the Author:  

Jesse Taggert is the Director of User Research & Design at Child Welfare Digital Services.  She has more than 25 years of experience as a design leader, user researcher, ux designer, visual designer, and communications strategist.  Recently, she completed a two-year engagement serving the federal government as an Innovation Specialist/Strategist at 18F where she led the consulting group’s design and product strategy.