August 2017 Newsletter: Invigorating Downtowns

This summer, we’re connecting urban development plans with local job creation strategies, and integrating stakeholder input as major investment unfolds. We’ve had the opportunity to support revitalization and master planning efforts over the past few months. Take a deeper look at these projects below.

We’ve been in Jamaica and Trenton helping identify innovative workforce training and partnership models to support local economic growth.

Governor Cuomo recently announced winning projects for Jamaica, Queens’ $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). We’ve been supporting a team led by HR&A Advisors to help the Jamaica Local Planning Committee (LPC) identify and develop these projects, which will facilitate catalytic economic development and investment in vibrant downtown activity. We advised the LPC on workforce and business support opportunities to increase job growth and attract workers downtown, and focused most closely on one of the winning projects to expand the Prime Skills Entrepreneurship Fund. This training program, managed by the Queens Economic Development Corporation, helps low-income Jamaica residents gain skills and tools to launch their own businesses. The additional DRI funding will capitalize on existing program infrastructure and early successes to scale the model, building a class of businesses in Jamaica owned by residents and giving the local community a direct connection to the economic growth of the DRI. We played a similar workforce subject matter expert role working with Group Melvin Design on the Trenton250 Master Plan. We’re excited to join stakeholders in announcing the results of this effort – aimed at combining economic development, education, housing, land use, and transit policies to transform the city – in the near future.

We’ve also got a new Analyst on board. Say hello.

Please join us in welcoming Sam Facas to Public WorksPartners as our newest Analyst! Sam joins us from the NYC Department of City Planning, where he spent three years working on the coordination and development of neighborhood planning studies to expand affordable housing opportunities for New Yorkers. Combining his non-profit, government, and private sector experience, Sam will conduct policy research and program coordination to provide our clients with thoughtful, actionable solutions to multidimensional problems.

Factoring Client Experience into Service Delivery: How Journey Mapping Enhances Service Design

As a firm, we aim to continuously identify and integrate new ways of thinking that will enhance our services. Most recently, we are exploring human-centered design and how we can apply this problem-solving process to the core of our client work. Pioneered in the 90’s by the global design firm IDEO, human-centered design analyzes human behavior to transform difficult challenges into sustainable solutions. It is a versatile approach – applicable across sectors, industries, products, space, services, or systems – that helps ensure the result of your work is of, by, and for people.

We see big impacts on social service organizations.
A key tool of human-centered design we’re now working with is journey mapping. Journey maps are end-to-end diagrams that illustrate the steps users – people – go through when interacting with a product or service. However, unlike other process diagrams, journey maps factor human behavior – motivations, interests, and pain points – into the process to convey not just what people do, but how they feel while doing it. The objective of journey mapping is to ensure clients or customers have a consistently high level of satisfaction when interacting with a product or service. We used the journey mapping method recently during a workforce development engagement to better understand challenges with job retention and advancement. Layering participant emotions and behaviors allowed us to identify ways to redesign services that would address job seeker barriers. Through this exercise, for example, one of our clients identified weekly case conferencing as a valuable tool for managing participants’ expectations as they transition to their job placements. Journey mapping is a very powerful tool, indeed, for helping create positive experiences and improve outcomes for program participants and staff at social service organizations.

Here’s a look at how journey maps work:






Words for the wise.
If you’re as excited about this new strategy as we are, below are a few tips on running an effective journey mapping session:

  • Don’t skimp on customer research. The best way to get into your customer’s psyche is to do the research necessary to fully gauge their motivations, interests, and pain points. You can accomplish this through a combination of interviews, surveys, observations of customer behaviors, and review of available data. We find one-on-one interviews to be effective for probing into challenges and interests, and understanding the nuance behind behaviors.
  • Let your customer profile be your guide. There’s a reason why we’re pushing for robust user research. Research findings directly affect the intricacy of your customer profile, or “user persona” – the representation of your target audience, based on their needs, behavior and pain points. The personas serve as the guide for plotting and assessing your process. It is the foundation that allows you to focus on what matters most to the customer as you design a service strategy aimed at addressing customer needs. For instance, “quick view” features on websites or mobile apps are based on robust user research since quick and easy ways to purchase an item or making a booking are frequent user motivations.
  • Keep it collaborative and creative. Journey mapping sessions are a great tool for bringing people together to problem-solve any challenge or to design a new service strategy. It can be an exciting and engaging opportunity to bounce around new ideas between colleagues. The user persona provides a common base of understanding for all session participants so that problem-solving suggestions can be developed regardless of familiarity or seniority related to the process or service at hand. Encouraging mappers to think outside the box and be creative is sure to yield new innovations for your service design!

Want more tips on customer journey mapping? Stay tuned for our human-centered design workshops in partnership with the Workforce Professionals Training Institute targeted for mid-2017.

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