Design Jam #1

I recently took part in a design jam organised here at UMSI by Delliote. The process in brief is three hours divided in brainstorming, visual representation and presentation (not for an equal time period). I was in a team with 4 fellow first year HCI students, each with a variety of skills they brought to the table ( Graphics, Computer Science , Neuropsychology etc).

Problem Statement:

Zingerman deli in Ann Arbor that is a popular (rather iconic) sandwich restaurant for people who visit Ann Arbor. They offer a range of food and are know for a business model that encourages growth and flexibility. They experience a surge in customers on football Saturdays, particularly in fall. They are looking to minimise the loss in sales because of the crowd and allow better handling large number of people 
The Deloitte InsightStudio team asked to illustrate the spikes in crowd and demands and help manage the situation. They need help in planning supplies, staff allocation, and better ways of handling the crowd to avoid the spike, while still maintaining the reputation of the brand!

Design process + Team dynamics + Ideation

We discussed how we can break down the problem statement in different areas that need information intervention.

  1. Floor Space Management
  2. Staff Management
  3. Food Supplies Management
  4. Cleaning
  5. Analytics and combos

We divided ourselves in two teams to work on these tasks and come back to discuss suggestions for solutions and work towards a final draft of solution.

Why divide and achieve ?

I know team work is a necessity in design thinking. Collision(healthy) should be invited in order to reach and cover a variety of areas in design solution. Why would our team possibly decide to divide problems and team members and work on such a problem statement. Well, I believe it was a healthy decision. None of us thought about it but now when I look at this, I feel we had several advantages in our bag.

Firstly, In a time constrained event as such, it is necessary to cover all aspects of the problem statement. I believe the jury would like to see how well we managed to wrap our heads around every aspect of the problem statement. And so we did. We designed a pathway that retained “ The Zingerman Experience” where they showcase their ingredients [ retaining the culture of the place]

Secondly, when I look back, for our solution to be out of the box, it had to be unpredictable. Now in a scenario where we are randomly assigned teams, the best way to achieve an unpredictable solution is to randomise the parameters further (this, as I apply my SI 563 game theory lectures). Assuming every members in all teams are equally intellectual in their unique fields of expertise. If every part of solution they propose had a touch of their expertise, almost every group would be equally good (and diverse) in the multiple solutions they propose to cover the entire problem statement. However in our case, we would have a solution excelling in analytics, while other in business and the third one in resource management etc. I know this wont mean our solution is better than that by a group which works together on ideation, but ours had better chances of standing out than others.

Note: Only an amateur inference, since i’m only a student in SI563 :P . May or may not be valid if scrutinised under heavy research, but it makes sense theoretically!

Floor space management

Floor plan of the Zingerman’s deli and our marking for the fast track zingerman’s experience pathway

The pathway marked in red is the experience pathway, something that is meant to showcase the ingredients and in a way help customers decide what they would want on the order. So by the time they reach the seating area, they have a better idea of what to order! Meanwhile the I pads used by the waiters for orders could be used to take orders from the customers as they wait in the line before the display!

Analytics and combos

(Top) Visualisation of different combos and trends in their sale in terms of M-Box. (bottom right) Patterns in past games, that help determine the quantity of inventory to stack up for the game day!

Our second proposal was “M-Box!”. A combo with sandwich, drinks and fries, packed in a box and ready to go!

Understanding that the football crowd is tailgating before the game, and a good portion of customers would want to take the food away, we proposed to introduce 7 combos from their menu categories by statistically taking the popular football Saturday choices taking the teams playing and past record as a parameter for determining the popular sandwich for current game.

Inventory management

Inventory and supplies can be tracked real-time by estimating the approximate quantity of ingredients that are consumed in each order. To get an estimate of the requirements for current game before hand, again the sale history from previous games and years could be used to plan before hand and predict the order trends.

**Cleaning staff management**

A crucial analytics factor we decided to operate cleaning information on was the orders per hour rate. So we divided the floor-plan of zingerman into 5 areas, each having a dedicated set of ipads. The orders on ipad would be logged in a database which estimates the amount of trash collected in the dustbins in the divided areas and this would be further used to give an idea about the frequency with which the area needs to be cleaned.

Dashboard of the managerial side of tablet

Manager’s dashboard display

Finally, all of these visualisation and analytics are combined into a tablet dashboard that is available to the manager. Understanding the priority of the usage, The home screen of the dashboard would only display data for floor, cleaning and inventory. Colour coding the areas and signals and representing the data in forms of charts results in easier and faster understanding of the data.

Final virtualisation of our proposal

Conclusion + Reflection

Keeping manager as a centre of our solution and his concerns of customer satisfaction, restaurant management, and inventory in mind, we did a good job addressing each of the issues in a detailed manner when brain storming. I believe our ideation was not that solid as it didn’t cover all ends of cases we proposed:

  1. Naming the combos as “M-Box” would attract Michigan crowd however it would mean they lose customers who aren’t Michigan supporters on game day!
  2. In a manager centred approach of , we could have neglected customer centred design of their current system (which is actually important for the manager!)

Regardless, I was happy with the way my team performed. Having a few hours to come up with an information solution ensures the members work at a healthy pace, do not ponder on trivial issue and work together. I guess this is something natural for everyone that is just minutes away from deadline. I had a great deal to learn about team dynamics from this workshop and I hope to do so over the next several jams to come!