Third Time’s the Charm

Quarter four has hands down been the most the demanding quarter as well as ambiguous. Thus far we’ve created over fifty vignettes, we’ve iterated upon our idea at least three times, and we’ve presented our idea twice now. It feels like it’s coming together, but it might just be a fluke. I’ve be reflecting on two main pieces of this quarter thus far, first the difficulty of keeping an idea small and the minute detail level decisions made when create a product and a pilot.

Our idea, like many others, has grown to try and solve not just one problem facing the population of interest, but many problems. We seem to have difficulty keeping out idea focused. The first time we has a single ideas; to provide direction and support for an individual to become connected with housing programs. We would surface a list of personalized housing programs that the Individual Experiencing Homelessness would be qualified for. Then by the presentation, we had added that the system would also help them apply to different organizations after applying to housing programs, as well as retain all their application statuses and help with single-night shelter options. After receiving feedback about this idea being too large again, we went back to cutting it down.

Ultimately, I have a better sense of when an idea is growing too much now. I can get a better sense of when the creeping in of additional tools or features are coming into the idea. This then helps me cut down on which ones actually make it into the idea. Garrett and I have also zeroed in, and now ask ourselves “Will this reduce an IEH’s time on the street?” when reviewing features or tools of our application.

The second learning curve of this quarter has been planning out a pilot and a product. Focusing on the pilot, I found that the detailed decisions I need to be more aware, feel buried in the first and second pass of the plan. Within the first two passes of the pilot plan, Garrett and I were making such big picture and zoomed out decisions, we couldn’t see the details we were glossing over. With the first pass we included the following: Participants, Recruitment, Testing, Evaluation. On the second pass we added a few addition sections, and expanded on the existing ones. For example, during the second iteration, we were able to more fully decide what kind of participant we wanted for our pilot. We were beginning to become more specific with who we wanted to target for our product.

By the third round, the details we needed to include were beginning to surface. I was writing out the exact script of what Garrett and I will be saying to the participants. Even though I’m fairly certain that the pilot’s script will likely diverge from this script after the first day, it stands as a reference for the tone of the messages for future reference. Again this iteration allowed us to more fully examine and scrutinize our decisions. Below is a link to our final Pilot Write up.

The final piece, which is still going on is creating the details of the product while still remaining centered upon the focus. This is an ongoing process. We have a rough hero flow for our product’s first half, but we need push through to the final end. Working through the first half felt familiar and productive, I think this is due to the similarities with previous iterations. Now we need to ask ourselves what we really want to lead our users towards as we build out the back pages. Those that include what a user will do with our app once they’ve gotten into housing.  I think the challenge here will be first to keep our product small as we iteration, and secondly to remind ourselves that each decision must be rooted in what our research has told us about our participants.

As we continue through the quarter, I’ll try to surface those details soon as opposed to the third iteration, especially with regard to the product. Those detailed decisions need to be thought through and iterated upon as much as any other.