Design of Work Experience (DOWE) is the much needed, step-by-step “how-to” for culture and experiences at work.
This interdisciplinary concept applies innovation where it’s really needed: the workplace. There are too many toxic environments that breed employee burnout and business risk. They cause scandals and fire CEOs. Company culture is often a liability due to neglect.
Co.- equips organizations with the tools they need to make culture a differentiating asset, one where both people and businesses thrive. We shouldn’t have to live with toxicity or even mediocrity that wastes potential and possibility.
- Step-by-step “how to” process
- Customized to your unique context
- Powered by co-design
- Designed for sustainability
- Creates real business change
The approach is comprised of 4 major components, the combination of DESIGN and CHANGE processes enabled by the development and use of CAPABILITY and ENGAGEMENT. DESIGN and CHANGE have specific sets of activities, organized as a series of iterative learning loops, to indicate the non-linear, but progressive nature of the process. Ultimately, the model yields an in-depth understanding of the current state, a strategy for the future state, and a plan for how to get there.
The Five Phases
This is the first phase of design, made up of three learning loops: People & Context, Insights, and Criteria. Activities in People & Context include: aligning purpose and scope, identifying early assumptions and key questions, planning and implementing user research. The Insights learning loop begins with assuming different mindsets before developing insights from raw data collected during user research. As a result, thinking is reframed and drives the development of the provocative proposition. Learning is further catalyzed through the creation of visuals. Criteria takes what was learned from user research and insights to establish the most critical requirements in two sets: from the organizational point of view and the employee point of view. This becomes the decision-making tool later on in the DOWE process.
2. CREATE & LEARN
The phase applies what’s been learned “into the creative design process and combines it with generated ideas through play and experimentation” in co-creation with others. The learning loops, Explore,Brainstorm and Play, net “brainstormed ideas to develop and refine for the new strategies and experiences.” In Explore, the design team “builds knowledge and inspiration by learning from everything and everywhere, hunting and gathering anything that could inform their perspective…it goes beyond doing primary and secondary research – it seeks stimulus to synthesize concepts and ideas.” In Brainstorm, facilitation guides people to “work together to generate options, ideas, or offerings that could solve for critical needs and define or enhance a work experience.” The CREATE & LEARN phase concludes with Play, where the team experiments with ideas to see how they relate to one another, how they work or how they might be modified to work.
The Design of Work Experience (DOWE) process converges with the DECIDE phase, which is comprised of the Prototype and Select learning loops. Prototype is another form of exploration that further refines ideas and gathers intelligence toward bringing the team closer to decisions. Select brings the development of the Strategy and Design Blueprint to full fruition when the team chooses what best meets 3 constraints: what is viable, what is possible, and what satisfies the previously established criteria.
PLAN prepares the organization for the change that inevitably accompanies the implementation of the Blueprint to 1) ensure that change reaches sufficient depth and breadth across the organization while maintaining connectivity/reinforcement across all content, actions, and activity, and 2) cover what will be done and how during IMPLEMENT. The Design of Work Experience (DOWE) process walks the design team through 8 iterations of planning to form the Roadmap and Action Plans.
In this last phase of the Design of Work Experience (DOWE) process, the Strategy and Design Blueprint is brought to life with the implementation of the Roadmap and Action Plans through the learning loops of Manage, Measure, and Sustain. Manage goes beyond carrying out plans, it manages meaning in the creation of a new reality at the individual, team, and organization levels. Measure serves to “gauge progress toward key milestones and enable timely adjustments” as well as “provides data and content for communication and contributes to the change narrative.” “Both a process and an outcome,” Sustain drives continued momentum and ensures that changes stick for as long as they’re needed.
All aspects that factor into how one is satisfied at work can be purposefully designed (or co-designed), including: behavior, interactions, climate, people practices, workspace, processes, etc. Unlike much of what’s out there in the world of “human resources best practices,” Design of Work Experience (DOWE) is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Its remarkable power comes from designing solutions out of a deep, empathetic understanding for an organization’s unique context, rendering solutions that are relevant and impactful.
Everyone can benefit from this. When engaged in great experiences, employees are bound to find meaning in their work, leading to more productivity and higher performance. From the business perspective, Design of Work Experience (DOWE) can bring a mission and vision to reality, align the organization, differentiate the company, harness previously untapped potential, and support overall success.