What’s in a ‘Design Hop’ and how can it help your charity?

Joe Roberson talks to five charities about their experience of our free, half-day ‘Design Hop’ workshops...

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Sharing and learning at the Brighton Design Hop in January

“It was a revelation.”

“I was blown away. I was buzzing.”

“So slick. So well articulated and so well conceived”

“We now have an approach. We know the different steps we have to go through.”

Getting started with digital service delivery isnt difficult. Any charity can do it. And all charities deserve the chance to get involved. That’s where CAST’s Design Hops have been helping out. Helping charities get to grips with design, explore their service challenges, and prepare to test an idea. All in an afternoon.

What is a Design Hop?

It’s a brief hop into digital service design; a half day hands-on workshop where CAST and their regional partners help local charities unpack and tackle their service delivery challenges together.

Attendees go away with two things:

  • An approach to digital service design they can replicate again and again
  • Lift off with an idea or challenge that goes right to the heart of their beneficiaries’ service needs.

We wanted to know more. So we asked five attendees about their Hop experience.

1. It’s all about your beneficiaries

“The most invigorating aspect was the constant pushback to have the end user in mind and question my assumptions about their life and behaviour.”

Sophie Gibson, Development Manager, Brighton Women’s Centre

“It made me spend more time with our service users, to understand how it was for them.” — Rosanda McGrath, trustee and volunteer

The reason charities exist is to serve a community or cause. And in that serving, to help someone. Hops zoom right to the heart of that ‘someone’s service experience.

2. Demystifies design, helps you do it yourself

“They were very careful from the beginning to make sure there was no jargon in the room.” — Angela Schlenkhoff-Hus, Programme Director, Coalition for Efficiency

“It’s a very practical way, just enough talking at you to grasp the concepts. Then it equips you with the tools to go back and continue the work so you’re not reliant on someone else.” — Angela

CAST believe anyone can learn the basics of service design, that to get started all you need is the right tools and approach. Our five interviewees all said they left their Hop knowing clearly what to do next.

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Our canvases and exercises introduce a ‘best of’ the techniques we’ve used with charities over the last 3 years

3. Teaches an approach, shifts mindsets

“It helped shift our mindset about approaching problems. It wasn’t just saying use a tool or necessarily use tech. It was teaching us the steps.” — Katrina Harrison, Marketing and Comms Manager, Shropshire Rural Communities Charity

As a sector our traditional approach to new services or funding opportunities is to form an idea, maybe pilot for a few months, then do it until the funding expires. Hops suggest a different approach: Define an idea or problem. Document your assumptions and blind spots. Identify your ‘skateboard’ or the simplest possible way to test your assumptions. Then test it.

4. Not just about digital

“The Hop process has a far wider application than digital.” — Sophie

“I’ve applied it to our business planning. It doesn’t have to be just for digital.” — Katrina

Although charities are using Hops to get started with digital service delivery, their approach can be applied to any service delivery challenge. This was an unexpected bonus.

5. A magic moment of clarity

“My team knew I was excited and why I wasn’t at work so the next day it was nice to show them my worksheets and my executive director the progress. It brought real clarity to our challenge.”

Chloe Williams, Business Development Manager. Young Epilepsy

“The workshop was linear: talk think, talk think, working through the problem. Then at the end we took different bits of that journey, rejigged them and suddenly had this really clear plan.” — Sophie

There’s a joy in leaving a meeting or workshop with a clear, simple idea of what to do next. But it doesn’t often happen. Each interviewee told us they left with a practical, easy to follow plan. CAST also photograph this plan, email a typed-up copy to you, then offer follow up support!

What’s different after a Hop?

“We are clearer and more succinct about what we are trying to do, and how to tell that story to people who aren’t yet involved in the project.” — Chloe

Design Hops were consistently recommended by our interviewees. In our view, with so many digital training courses currently available they are the easiest way to get started with digital service design and delivery.

Hops are happening near you

You can still sign up for March Design Hops in Bristol, Cornwall, Leeds, Lincolnshire, London, Oxford and Warwickshire, and more countrywide Hops will be announced soon. Sign up to be notified of the next one near you.

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You’ll meet local peers and digital experts who can support you beyond the event. And it’s fun! :)

The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology — upskilling and upscaling social sector organisations to use technology for accelerated social change.

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