Mentor Support

 

How can we ensure peer mentorship experiences go well?

My Role: 

Planning Design Sprints, Design Research, Prototyping, Planning and Performing User Testing, Iterating

The Solution: 

Peer mentors often feel they lack the experience to provide helpful suggestions. To reassure them, we created a question guide and problem map highlighting common issues design teams face. These ideas are currently being tested at the DFA Northwestern studio.

 To guide iterations, my partner Carolyn Mazanec, and I created weekly sprint plans. Read a detailed map of our sprints here.

A future iteration of these tools was tested during Summer Studio 2017. It resulted in teams completing 30% more user tests. 

 

 

 

Earlier Prototypes

Validation Plan Prototype
Validation Plan Prototype

Our check in guide was initially based off of a Validation Plan that teams and mentors would fill out together. Users felt that filling out the form was too formal. In addition, mentors need to know what teams learned from their last steps.

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Check In Guide Prototype
Check In Guide Prototype

This prototype taught us that explaining why each question mattered increased mentors' confidence in navigating conversations with their teams.

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Parallel Pain Points Map Prototype
Parallel Pain Points Map Prototype

While the team knew it was important to show the entire process at once, we did not know what layout would make the information easiest to digest. This prototype also taught us that mentors like having multiple possible solutions for each problem so they can avoid telling the team exactly what to do instead of providing possible next steps.

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Validation Plan Prototype
Validation Plan Prototype

Our check in guide was initially based off of a Validation Plan that teams and mentors would fill out together. Users felt that filling out the form was too formal. In addition, mentors need to know what teams learned from their last steps.

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Tool #1: Resource Map

Peer mentors often feel insecure about their legitimacy as a mentor. First-time mentors in particular often think they don't know enough about design thinking, causing them to doubt their ability to mentor their teams well.

 

To ensure mentors can provide guidance confidently, my partner and I created a resource map listing common obstacles team face and suggested solutions.  Throughout our sprints, we tested both the content and the flow of our map. We tested by having teams fill out forms we created, asking peer mentors to diagnosis scenarios we created with our prototypes, and various A/B tests. Click to see a larger version of this image. 

Tool #2: Team Check In Guide

In order for mentors to properly diagnose what issues teams are having, they need to be informed on the team's progress. We created a check in guide to assist mentors in getting the information they need to support a team.