Scheduling Change

SiG Note: This blog post is written by former SiGster Satsuko, who is now a business ethnographer at social enterprise InWithForward. The post showcases a tangible example of how ethnography is used by labs to uncover opportunity areas in order to build system tipping solutions, like Kudoz. The post has been re-posted from InWithForward with permission from the author.

8:12am     Ashley: Ok, I just got a text that Kelly is sick.

Don: What time does she start?

Ashley: 10:30.

Don stares at his computer screen, toggling between tabs on the google spreadsheet.

Don: Has Saul worked with Randy?

Ashley: I think Clay has.

Don: Clay? Before we do that, let’s call Saul.

Ashley: We’ve pulled almost all the *casuals, oh Mick is extra today.

Don: Melody has worked with Randy.

Ashley: Ya, we can do that.

Don: Ok, I’ll change it in the schedule if you call.

Ashley [starts dialing]: Right!

Don: Better put it on the chat before Francine steals her.

8:15am      Ashley: Yup.

This was exactly the kind of conversation I was hoping to catch. From 7:50am to 10am, perched on a chair beside Don, I scribbled in my notepad as quickly as I legibly could. I was attempting to capture Don’s moves on a pretty micro level: his mouse clicks, the number of times he toggled between web browser tabs, text messages sent and received, facial expressions (concentration face, calm, joking around, adrenalin), timings, interruptions, conversations between colleagues. We’re trying to learn everything we can about staff scheduling at our Burnaby project partner agencies, because the success of Kudoz depends on it.

Learning about scheduling at one of our partner agencies

Learning about scheduling at one of our partner agencies

I was hanging out with Don because he is responsible for managing the schedule of two disability day programs, comprised of about 35 staff. He is part of a 4 person scheduling team. If any of his 4 colleagues receives a sick call, even if the shifts in Don’s programs are balanced and none of his staff cancel shifts, he may need to move around his staff to figure out a new configuration. There are tons of variables and rigid union regulations that schedulers juggle in their head.

 A simpler staff switch may take a couple minutes to sort out. A tougher one can take a couple hours and up to 9 shift swaps, not to mention the accompanying calls to each of the staff and families affected (this was the case with a sick call two days earlier, Don told me, where he couldn’t find anyone to cover the shift and ended up going on the floor himself). I recorded tons of clicking between google docs, one-handed text messages sent, scrunchy foreheads, jokes between the team, and greetings to individuals. By 9:35am, I already had 9 pages of notes.

The typical chain of events when Don receives a sick call

The typical chain of events when Don receives a sick call

We were observing Don with a very specific aim: to spot opportunity areas, which are often disguised as bottlenecks and barriers. Specifically, we are seeking to understand: what is the most annoying, time-consuming or anxiety-producing part of the scheduling process, what are the most rewarding moments that make it worthwhile, what is considered a good scheduling outcome, what skills help you excel at this type of work, what motivates schedulers and how do incentive structures support that? Don used the above diagram to talk me through his answers.

Scheduling? So what?

I joined InWithForward about a month ago, bringing a business lens to the team. My main focus has been on the business model for Kudoz. And related to that, how this new service will fit into the existing organizational structure and systems of our three partner agencies and the developmental disabilities sector as a whole. Staff scheduling quickly rose to the top as a potential barrier for Kudoz. That’s because Kudoz uses paid staff time in 1-3 hour increments during regular program hours.

Kudoz

Kudoz is a catalogue of taster experiences for people with a learning disability. Essentially, Kudoz matches people — disability agency staff, small business owners, or community members — who have a passion to share with individuals-served who are bored and curious to try something new.

For frontline worker Frank, it means having people join him for a drumming circle and getting better at teaching about soundscapes. For community member Andrea, it means having a friend to go for a walk in the forest and that nudge to get back into photography. For person-served David, it means discovering he is pretty good at making his own video clips, having more things to talk about with friends and family, having more positive self-talk, and growing his curiosity. Kudoz aims to enable individuals-served like David to flourish and lead a meaningful life.

For Don, this means that if any of his staff become a Kudoz host, the schedules he manages would be affected. In order for Kudoz to take hold and spread, we are working hard to figure out how to integrate Kudoz into existing structures and to make it easier and more convenient than the existing system. Because Kudoz will be squashed if it creates extra work or a headache for schedulers like Don.

Some early thoughts on different ways Don’s staff could work around the schedule in order to become a Kudoz host

Some early thoughts on different ways Don’s staff could work around the schedule in order to become a Kudoz host

(Early) insights & hunches

Based on our ethnographic observations thus far, we have a couple hunches.

One hunch is that Kudoz will be able to collect, accumulate, and leverage idle work hours in order to enable staff to share their passion with persons-served, all during work time.

For salaried staff with flexible hours, this hunch means using slower office times during the day, week, month, or year towards hosting Kudoz experiences (we are currently testing this).

For hourly support staff with defined shifts, this hunch means shaving off and banking idle work hours from a shift, in order for the hours to be re-purposed towards hosting a one-on-one experience to share their passion with an individual-served.

For example, some possible idle time that disability day program staff could potentially bank include:

  • (±40 minutes) when program staff are on the clock at the agency, but their person-served hasn’t arrived yet for their day program;
  • (±20 minutes) allotted to program staff for writing and reading log notes; casuals usually aren’t required to do so;
  • (3-4 hours) when casual staff are on shift, but an individual-served ends up not coming in; due to union regulations, the shift cannot be cancelled;
  • (1-2 hours) when a casual staff is called to cover a 2-hour staff meeting, but a casual cannot be booked for a shift that is less than 3-4 hours (minimum shift hours are different per agency).

These examples alone free up 6-7 hours for meaningful experiences that equate to individuals-served learning and growing their sense of self. And, staff get to share their personal passions on work time, leading to higher productivity and morale and lower absenteeism/presenteeism.

Another hunch is that much of the scheduling process could be automated to create efficiency gains and eliminate many of schedulers’ pain points.

One of the partner agencies has recently switched over to a bespoke software program for scheduling, that has been rolled out over the last year. Another agency uses google docs. Another uses paper. No matter the system, there are tons of variables that schedulers hold in their head. Some of this information is written somewhere, often the result of a scheduler going on a holiday and needing to share the info with their colleagues. But most of the tacit knowledge is not. And most of it is not reflected in the software they use. We think it could be!

We are making a list of specs that a Kudoz enabled scheduling system would need to include and we are learning more everyday. Some of these specs include:

  • automated text/call/email notifications of shifts when there are changes, based on the staff member’s preferred method of communication, how soon the shift is, etc.;
  • the option of a daily automated text to families of persons-served that let’s them know who will be working with their son/daughter that day, based on the family’s communication preferences;
  • drop down menu per specific shift, with all the staff that are trained and available to work on a given shift (even if they are scheduled for another shift), and the number of swaps that would be required if that staff was chosen;
  • recommendations of the most desirable swap, based on relationships between staff and the individual-served, an individual’s preferences (would like a different staff every three days), past interactions with family, etc. — all of which would be inputed by schedulers;
  • include “long shot” swap options; ie. staff who are likely unable to cover a shift (based on the availability they provided), but might be able to.

These specifications aim to minimize/eliminate the need for staff to negotiate swapping staff across programs (one of the major pain points identified by schedulers) and lessen the burden of communicating changes (calling people, waiting to hear back and adjusting the various systems to reflect changes is often the most time consuming part of shifting the schedule).

For now, we are pulling inspiration from restaurant scheduling apps and flight comparison aggregators sites to think creatively about what is possible. Any suggestions of ideas are super welcome ~ please include them in the comments section!

We’re left wondering…

There are many things to test and work through over the next 5 months. Some of the questions we’re trying to figure out and are working through at the moment include:

  • How do we get parents on board with Kudoz? How do we help parents see Kudoz as an opportunity for growth for their children?
  • How do we work with managers whose staff are signing up to be Kudoz hosts?
  • What is the economic activity surrounding an individual-served? Can we put a dollar amount on this? How can we bring out the stories behind the numbers, ie. What is the cost to quality of life and the ability to flourish? What are the positive deviant stories of individuals-served?

There is nothing like a deadline to keep one moving and motivated.

– Satsuko

Jargon alert!

Some of the sector specific language used in this post:

 *Casuals: a type of Support Worker that is on-call and employed when and if needed for disability day programs and for group homes (where 3-4 people with learning disabilities may live).

*Support Staff/Workers: assist adults with a learning disability on a day-to-day basis, either one-on-one or as part of a small group (usually no more than 4).

*Disability day program: a place where adults with learning disabilities go during the day. Day programs are staffed by support workers that help individuals work towards their personal development plans.

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (October 2014)

C/O QuillAndArrowPress

C/O QuillAndArrowPress

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed our desks over the month of October 2014. Enjoy!

LATEST IN LAB THINKING + DOING

1. Video of Christian Bason’s talk (formerly head of MindLab, now leading the Danish Design Center) from a Parsons DESIS Lab event – ‘(New) Public Goods: Labs, Practices, and Publics’ – in NYC, May 2014. The event brought together lab practitioners from around the world (many on route to the Global Lab Gathering in Toronto), designers, social scientists, researchers, and public servants to explore in-depth how lab approaches play out in reality, critically reflect on practice, and discuss next steps. Christian talks about some of MindLab’s projects and about what is at the ‘edge of thinking’ for this emerging field. Also see this post by Sarah Schulman about her reflections from the event.

2. Blog post overview of a 3-day innovation jam workshop in Jakarta that spawned 9 new innovation lab projects focused on areas of women’s empowerment. The workshop was led by Aditya Dev Sood and used a compressed version of the Bihar Innovation Lab model. Each of the nine pre-selected groups (out of 81 applicants) were also awarded grants and teamed up with a design student. The post is an inspiring account of the specifics of running innovation workshops that empower and enable non-specialists to create and innovate. The result of this workshop was the start of a lab network in Indonesia!

3. Blog post of an interview with MindLab’s Kit Lykketoft while she was in Montenegro to give the keynote address at SHIFT| UNDP Week on Innovation Action. Questions explored included:

  • How would you describe what it is you and your team do?
  • We always hear about user-led innovation and design thinking. What does that actually mean, and how does it – or can it – impact our lives as we live them?
  • Why do you think that governments should adopt the innovation agenda?
  • Can you tell us a bit more about what collaborative policy-making is?
  • Do you have any reflections on what you’ve seen here so far, or perhaps more broadly in your work in Europe and Central Asia?

4. Blog post – “How Social Innovation Labs Contribute to Transformative Change” – is part of a blog series on the Rockefeller Foundation’s innovation labs program. This post reflects on a gathering in September with 20 leading lab practitioners from around the world (including Toronto’s own Joeri van den Steenhoven of the MaRS Solutions Lab). While the group was diverse, three themes emerged as being common lab features, which are described further in the post:

(1) Drawing on diverse perspectives from across and within the system
(2) An innovation mindset of learning fast, trial and error, and co-creating solutions
(3) Unique process, approach, and tools for problem solving

5. Two slide decks: (1) Andrea Siodmok of UK’s Policy Lab shares an introduction to their lab and (2) Philip Colligan of Nesta’s Innovation Lab shares his presentation from the “Social iCon” global lab gathering that took place in October in Singapore.

6. Co-working-like space: “Innovation Lab” for City of Philadelphia city employees. The “lab”— which used to be two meeting rooms—features an open floor plan, five mounted screens, whiteboards, and wifi (the city wired the entire 16th floor of the Municipal Services Building). The initiative is part of the city’s overall innovation plan, which also includes sending its employees to “Innovation Academy” and a $100,000 fund to back public-private projects.

7. Blog post by Christian Bason –  “Less analysis, more design” – discusses how we have become obsessed with analysing situations when we really need to start doing/designing – moving from research to practice.

8. Guide book on creating an innovation unit in government, created by the IBM Center for the Business of Government, based on research about “the recent trend toward the creation of innovation offices across the nation at all levels of government.”

9. Reflection blog – “Towards Co-Producing Public Innovation in Chile” – by Christian Bason following his visit to Chile, on the back of an announcement by President Bachelet of a new innovation lab to help drive more and better innovation in the country.

“I believe a co-production approach could be what is needed for the multitude of actors around the public innovation agenda in Chile to enable them to collaborate effectively for a common purpose” – Christian offers three ways to do this: First, rethink the challenge. Second, invest in capabilities. Third, act as a platform (the post is also translated into Spanish and the website is awesome overall…worth a look!).

10.  Profile of Civic Systems Lab on the Nesta site: “Civic Systems Lab is a laboratory that designs and tests methods, strategies and systems to grow the civic economy at regional, city and local levels.”

11.  Also on the Nesta site, the announcement of a new Lab – the Innovative Growth Lab (IGL) – aimed at improving understanding of what works when it comes to innovation and growth policy. The purpose of the IGL is to run and support randomised controlled trials (RCT) of policies intended to promote innovation and economic growth through grants. The first grants look at interventions including business incubators, entrepreneurial mentoring and university tech transfer.

12. And, one more Nesta-related shout out, an article in Social Scape Magazine – “Are we really making a difference? Lessons from Nesta’s Innovation Lab” – by Philip Colligan, an Executive Director of Nesta’s Innovation Lab. The article explores activities of the Innovation Lab, offers Nesta’s framework for understanding impact, and questions whether labs are indeed making a difference to societies.

13. Blog post about a brilliant idea for a climate change mitigation lab – “The Case For The Gigatonne Lab” – by Zaid Hassan and Jeff Stottlemyer. To avoid dangerous climate change, global emissions need to peak between 2015-2020. A realistic risk management perspective suggests that a net reduction of approximately 44-34 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (or equivalent amounts of greenhouse gases, as measured by radiative forcing effects) must be removed from the atmosphere as quickly as practicable.

The Gigatonne Lab is a possible strategy for helping achieve such a goal. This programme will set a target of achieving a one gigatonne reduction of CO2 within 2 years from the beginning of operations. The aim of the lab would be to engender momentum by demonstrating that it is possible to achieve a significant and measurable reduction of emissions within a time-frame commensurate with the urgency of the decarbonization challenge. Pretty awesome. Read more about the idea here.

 OF INTEREST TO THE PRACTICE

14. Report from the SIX Vancouver Summer School (part of the SIX Summer School Annual Conference Series). The event was hosted in partnership with Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and BC Partners for Social Impact (#BCPSI), representing the global, Canadian, and British Columbian social innovation communities respectively. The report is an overview of the new ideas, critical insights, practical solutions, common experiences and stories that were shared at the three-day event.

15. Good article from Harvard Business Review – “Create a Strategy That Anticipates and Learns” – on utilising big data to develop strategy and adapt it on an ongoing basis (H/T The Moment).

16.  Interesting article arguing against empathy, instead of for it. That’s right, this is a critique of empathy, describing how empathy can create biases and blind spots and advocating for us to check our biases about empathy. Definitely worth a read!

17. Essay “Beyond Policy,” by Mathew Taylor, is about a movement or theory that argues for a departure from traditional ways of creating social change and making policy that remain “rooted in assumptions necessary half a century ago.”

Beyond Policy has three strands: One strand focuses on the problem traditional policy and decision-making has with the complexity and pace of change in the modern world. A second strand – most often applied to public service reform – argues that the relational nature of services means that change cannot be done to people, but must be continually negotiated with them, leaving as much room as possible for local discretion at the interface between public commissioner/provider and citizen/service user. A final strand is where “beyonders” (those part of the Beyond Policy movement) pursue a model of change in which the public has the right and the responsibility to be the subject, not the object.

18. Excellent think piece – “Service Design Principles For Working With The Public Sector” – by Design Managers Australia & Snook (Scotland). The piece is based on practical experience building design capability within the public sector (from the inside as public servants and from the outside as consultants) and highlights challenges, opportunities and barriers faced when embedding service design practice in the public sector.

Speaking of service design, the “service design toolkit” offers an introductory step-by-step plan and do-it-yourself guide for those wanting to give service design a go. And, if you’re in Toronto this Thursday (Nov 13), IxDA Toronto and Service Design Toronto will co-host a panel discussion on the value of service design, from both a client and practitioner perspective.

19. Great article in the Washington Post – “Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked by what she learns” – describing the power of ethnography via a teacher’s experience and reflections. The teacher shadows a 10th grader for one day and a 12th grader for another day, doing all the things students are expected to do: take notes and listen to lectures, do tests, do chemistry lab experiments, etc. “It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!”

20. Fun blog post and useful metaphor: “5 Prototyping lessons from a BMX backflip” uses a BMX backflip to talk through the different stages and important lessons for prototyping. These key lessons are:

1. Deconstruct the challenge
2. Minimize risk
3. Use ignored resources
4. Remove as much as possible
5. Maximize cycles of learning
(BONUS!) And when you are done, take the learning forward, not the thing…

21. Booklist from Brain Pickings: Reading lots of different things helps us see new and unusual connections. Here is some inspiration for choosing your next book, across art, science, psychology and more.

Belonging versus Change

SiG Note: This article was originally published by In With Forward on April 15, 2014 as part of their Toronto Project: St. Chris Stories, in partnership with St. Christopher House Drop-in Centre. It has been cross-posted with permission from the author.

Is too much community – too much belonging – a barrier to change?

That’s the question we’re posing. After spending time with 16 of the 200+ members of the Meeting Place Drop-in Centre. On the corner of Queen and Bathurst in downtown Toronto. Open from 11:30am to 4pm Monday to Sunday during the brutal winter months. And Monday to Friday during the milder summer months.

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Anna’s been coming to the corner for over 20 years. So too has Ozze. And Dwayne.

Telia is a relative newbie. She’s only been dropping by for 7 years. Ever since her methamphetamine addiction pushed her on the streets, and pushed her kids in care. Then came the heroin. And the crack. And the abusive boyfriend. And the death of her good friend, Greg. From an overdose. She found him. The stench was so bad. That’s when Telia decided she was going to stop putting all those street chemicals into her veins. Just the pure stuff – prescribed by her doctor – and used with supervision in the harm reduction clinic bathroom.

TammyforwebBut Telia walks by the Corner on her way to the Clinic. And it has a strong pull. Because Drop-in Centre members and staff have curated a strong community. That accepts and embraces you as you are.

“That’s the place where my friends are, where you’re not judged. But then again you are just surrounded by substance abuse and brought back in. If I stay at home, though, I’m totally bored. I start to think. And that’s no good either.”

Telia’s home is filled with remnants of her past life. Photos of her older daughter. Pictures before she was heavily using. A laundry basket full of markers and paints. Telia’s always had an artistic side. She used to be a school photographer. You know the ones who snapped cute kids with missing front teeth? Now her teeth are missing and not coming back. She’s got removable dentures.

Dentures are easy enough to remove. But removing yourself from the community that understands you isn’t easy. And once you leave the corner, and are out of sight, you’re also out of mind. Few of the 16 folks we spent time with could name anybody doing well. Even though many of the staff of the Drop-in Centre were former users, ostensibly doing well.

“I don’t know nobody doing well.” Mike

No change narrative

Indeed, after 12 days and more than a dozen Tim Horton’s double-doubles, we heard no shared ‘success’ narratives. No discourse about life after the Drop-in Centre. Instead, most conversations centered on survival. On where to find a bed, a meal, a cigarette, a decent spot for pan-handling.

A survival discourse

Staff were also caught in the same survival cycle. Filling out forms for emergency housing; calling around to find treatments for bedbugs; breaking-up fights; enforcing rules; calming down irate individuals; cleaning-up urine. Less than 10% of staff’s time was spent in longer or deeper conversations. What might be called therapeutic or developmental conversations. Where the focus was on prompting or supporting change.

Screen_Shot_2014-04-20_at_12.11.10_AM

Identity confusion

And some Drop-in Centre members were on the precipice of change. Including many of the members who unexpectedly passed away. Greg had been recently housed. Junior was signed-up for treatment and about to re-enter school. And yet the members preparing for something different seemed to be the most vulnerable. Caught between wanting a different identity and a social network that embraced their current identity. That implicitly advocated continuity.

“You could say I am addicted to the place. Just like I’m addicted to beer. I’m sorry, but to be crude, it gives me a big hard-on being here. It’s really hilarious. It’s a big soap opera. Like Coronation Street or Jerry Springer. It’s the same shit, just a different day. I don’t need to watch TV, I can just come here.” Dwayne

What ifs…

What if the Drop-in Centre (and wider service system) distributed support based on members’ readiness to change? So that somebody like Telia – very much in the preparation stages of change – was supported to build a new social network, received validation & recognition for each step forward (and back), and had real opportunities to explore other parts of her identity (her painting, her photography, her mothering).

Using the Transtheoretical Model of Change, we began to re-sort the members of the Drop-in Centre. Those in the pre-contemplation stage. Content with their current situation. Those in the contemplation stage. Ambivalent about change. Those in the preparation stage. Getting ready to do something different, to learn about treatment options for Xanax addiction and things like that. Those in the acting stage. Doing something different. And those in the maintenance stage.

Here’s what our segmentation looked like:

Screen_Shot_2014-04-20_at_12.11.27_AMWhen you re-segment people based on motivations, rather than lump them into a non-differentiated group based on risks such as drug use & homelessness, new ideas for interventions rise to the surface.

Like identifying members cycling in and out of contemplation – and in the moments where they are interested in change, pulling them out of the same-old, same-old context. So they feel change might be feasible and desirable. When members come into the Centre for the day, they might choose a different coloured coffee mug based on how they are feeling. Enabling staff to have a different conversation and set them up with experiences happening outside of the Drop-in Centre building. Perhaps working as a chef for a few hours, or fixing bicycles down the street, or meeting a former user for a coffee. Staff might also be matched by stage of change – enabling the collection and application of specific know-how and strategies.

Screen_Shot_2014-04-20_at_12.16.55_AMThe most poignant moment of our time in Toronto came on the last day. As we were sharing our reflections back with the members themselves. We drew a line on the floor with green tape. And asked members to sort themselves based on the 5 stages of change. Bruce, one of the long-term members of the Centre, stumbled over. And told us we were missing a category. Removing 2 Listerine bottles from his shirt, he said, “What about the people who want to change but just can’t? Who have tried, but it’s not possible?”

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It’s true. We were missing that category.

We tried a number of different categories. Re-grouping members according to the stories they told themselves (their narratives) and according to their social networks (bridging, bonding, estranged, etc.). Based on the theory of story editing, along with research on the dangers of too much bonding social capital. Each grouping offered a few new ideas for re-thinking supports and services. Give us a shout if you’re interested in the full range of segmentations and ideas.

Of course, all of the ideas are untested. No doubt, many won’t work. That’s why they need to be prototyped and revised so we can learn what works, for whom, in which contexts. We’re currently sharing stories with funders and champions – and together with St. Chris House – preparing for change.

You can prepare too…

Learn from or work with In With Forward by exploring our new Learning Packages or get in touch.