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Future Vision for Pilots

How can we create momentum around a shared vision for the future of pilot technologies informed by the pilot perspective?

My Role: 

I was the lead researcher in the project, from planning the research to recruiting and guiding a freelancer to facilitating group synthesis sessions and communicating key findings. I was also the lead designer for visuals in the video and edited the concept video.

​My Impact: 

We communicated our vision through journey maps, a concept video and a 5-year program plan. To ensure long term buy-in of the project, I collaborated closely with the client’s designer. Our vision made pilots feel heard with feedback like, “If you created this, morale would go through the roof!”


Project Planning + Initial Research

Our team included portfolio owners, business analysts, developers and designers for pilot technologies. I communicated my research plan and goals with the team early on to secure a diverse group of pilots to work with and allow team members to share existing knowledge or questions they wanted answered from our work.


During the first round of interviews, I relied on initial open-ended questions including “Tell me about your most recent sequence” while tailoring follow up questions around our learning goals.

To increase participation and ownership, I facilitated synthesis sessions with team members who joined interviews. This created advocates for pilots and helped the Lextech team understand our client team members. To balance letting team members note whatever was interesting with synthesizing each interview in a consistent manner, I used the end of these sessions to compare our observations to previous interviews and review if we learned anything new about the pilots’ motivations through the Jobs to Be Done methodology.

To keep the rest of the team and the pilots in the loop, I created a visible Figma document with patterns we were noticing. This document allowed other members to highlight any patterns they noticed and gave the pilots a chance to comment on the trends we observed.

Left: A few sticky notes from the insights Figma document from the project.


Task Analysis and Journey Mapping

After 2 weeks of open-ended interviews, I started semi-structured task analysis to inform our journey maps. I continued to start with open-ended questions, especially with pilots I was meeting for the first time, but spent most of the time getting a better understanding of their tools and thoughts during a flight. While I wasn’t able to conduct any observational research in the cockpit due to security reasons, I was able to have a few pilots screen record their pre-flight process and observe 4 others in person.

Lastly, I facilitated a journey mapping workshop with 7 pilots to validate our understanding of their workflows. The workshop kicked off with a conversation about our insights to give the pilots in attendance a chance to chime in. Afterwards, the pilots defined their own grading scale and used it to rank the steps on each of our maps.


Notes from a task analysis session

Storyboarding + Wireframes

To align my team on what we wanted our concept video to show, I led a storyboard workshop. We focused on the "Oscar Winning Moment" of getting passengers home on time to focus the story on an impactful moment. We then filled in other details about our future vision that we wanted to highlight, including collaboration with other teams at the airline and that the new technology would not require switching back and forth between multiple applications. 

Next, I worked with the freelance designer to bring the story to life through wireframes and hand-drawn sketches. Weekly feedback from pilots, our client team, and the client designer ensured we were communicating a vision everyone could get behind. 

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A wireframe of a pre-flight dashboard for pilots.

Final Touches on The Video

To keep the focus of the video on a general vision for what the future could be, I brought on an illustrator to draw the background of our scenes. I created design guidelines with the airline's designer so that our designs were screens he was comfortable moving forward with in teh future. Another piece of the video that was important to me was having a pilot as a narrator. I spent 3 hours reworking the 5 minute script with a pilot before he recorded it to ensure every word in the script was pilot approved. Lastly, I recorded an ending with the program manager and edited it all together in iMovie.

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One of the widgets from our video to keep pilots informed on everything related to their flight being on time (left). One of the scenes from our video created by our illustrator, Helena Scholz-Carlson (right).

Wrapping Up the Project

In addition the video, our team created a detailed program plan to help the airline make their vision a reality. We mapped out dependencies, phases of each project, impact of each phase and more to order the projects in a way that would deliver results quickly and consistently. In fact, 3 of the first 5 quarters of development included releases that would provide value to both pilots and business goals.

The video and plan created a clear pathway to a world where the right information came to the pilots, as opposed to pilots digging for it. "The ability to consolidate information from multiple sources in a single location... is a game changer. It allows the pilot to focus on the most important information and accomplish their work in a time efficient manner," said a stakeholder. While new development might be delayed due to COVID-19, the team is working today to get the project and tech infrastructure set up to get the projects moving as soon as the budget is available. 

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