There’s nothing that gets us more excited than seeing our alums go out and apply design thinking to new projects. Phil Ansell, a director with Los Angeles County’s social services department, took that challenge head on. He graduated from our executive education program and went right home to tackle a doozy: the dreaded “QR-7” form, which folks who are receiving public assistance need to fill out–repeatedly–in order to maintain their benefits. Phil and his department knew that eligible families often lost benefits because they didn’t turn in the form, and they set out to use the design thinking process to understand why and what they could do about it.
After digging into empathy work, they quickly came up with four prototypes that they tested. The two most successful, a hotline for people confused about the form and a scanning system that notified users when their documentation was received, are now being implemented.
But the payoff of the project wasn’t just a better design for the form: The social services staff who participated in the design challenge felt a meaningful connection to the outcome.
“Not only did I get to see a more humane and humble side of our organization, but I also rediscovered a new sense of
connectedness to my colleagues and a renewed sense of duty towards the community I serve,” Ibeth, a front-line employee, wrote in reflecting on the program.