Introducing the updated ITK PAINstorming!

Introducing the updated ITK PAINstorming!

As part of Team Toolkit’s collaboration with the MITRE Social Justice Platform, we are excited to announce the equity-lens update to ITK PAINstorming!

ITK PAINstorming helps improve your team’s understanding of a user’s behaviors, pain points, assumptions, and needs. This worksheet helps focus your team on addressing actual user preferences, and it can also help explore assumptions or unknown gaps about users.

The updated ITK PAINstorming worksheet adds new questions to help your team better understand your ideal user. In addition, the embedded equity lens helps your team broaden their perspective to consider what else may have historically occurred or be contributing to today’s current status quo. Collectively exploring these additional questions will help your team develop deeper insights about your ideal user and identify more opportunities for innovation.

PAIN stands for Persona, Activities, Insights, and Needs – the four main research topics explored in this structured method for gathering insights about users or user identities.

The Personas block sets the scope for your team’s discussion by asking who or what you’re innovating for, as well as which situation is being considered.

The Activities block asks about what the user is trying to accomplish. The embedded equity lens takes this further to ask what led this user to this activity. This question encourages your team to explore what may have been occurring not only at an individual level, but at the systemic, institutional, environmental, and possibly intergenerational level.

The Insights block asks about workarounds that the user has invented or employed to help them better achieve what needs to be done. The embedded equity lens broadens your team’s perspective by asking why the workaround was necessary in the first place and how it came to be. In some problem-solving situations, your team may be focused too narrowly on the symptoms that are in front of them rather than seeing the larger, inequity problem that surrounds them. By addressing the true root cause of a problem, more lasting equitable outcomes can be created.

The Needs block asks about the activity and role-specific pain points that the user experiences. The embedded equity lens again broadens your team’s perspective by asking about what previous conditions have enabled or created today’s pain points. Similar to the Activities block, this question encourages your team to consider not just individual impacts, but also systemic, institutional, environmental, and possibly intergenerational impacts.

Lastly, we updated the tool instructions to reduce harmful terms such as “target user.” Since some groups have truly experienced unfair targeting, the use of this term may reinvoke painful memories or perpetuate harm to this group. Instead, we use “ideal user” or simply “user” throughout the instructions.

We hope you find the updated ITK PAINstorming worksheet useful, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Interested in learning more about other ITK tools with an embedded equity lens?

 

 

Stakeholder Toolchains

Stakeholder Toolchains

The Innovation Toolkit has 5 stakeholder-related tools, and now that you know which one to use and when, the question becomes: How can I create an ITK Stakeholder Toolchain?

As a quick refresher, Toolchains involve using a series of ITK tools in sequence, where the outputs of one tool becomes the input for the next tool. By chaining multiple tools together, you can help your team really make progress towards your intended objective.

Planning for stakeholders falls into three general steps, as listed below:

  1. Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder;
  2. Assessing which stakeholders to engage with; and
  3. Assessing the optimal engagement approach.

To create an ITK Stakeholder Toolchain, decide which planning steps are your objective. Next, pick & choose a tool that supports each step. If your objective is only one of the planning steps, then pick both of the tools. Voila! Now you have an ITK Stakeholder Toolchain.

Here are six example ITK Stakeholder Toolchains based on your objective:

 

 

#1 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to identify a list of relevant stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas (labeled 2) and Community Map (labeled 1). Arrows show iteration between the two tools.
#2 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to categorize and assess multiple stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories (labeled 1) and Stakeholder Map & Matrix (labeled 2). Arrows show iteration between the two tools.
#3 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to identify and categorize stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas and Community Map. These are collectively labeled as ‘1’ with instruction to ‘Pick One.’ In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. These are collectively labeled as ‘2’ with instructions to ‘Pick One.’
#4 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to categorize and plan engagements for stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. These are collectively labeled as ‘1’ with instructions to ‘Pick One.’ In the right circle, one tool is listed: Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas (labeled ‘2’ with iteration arrows and instructions to ‘Repeat for each stakeholder’).
#5 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to incorporate equity considerations when identifying, assessing, and planning engagements for stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas (labeled ‘1’) and Community Map. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories (labeled ‘2’) and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. In the right circle, one tool is listed: Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas (labeled ‘3’ with iteration arrows and instructions to ‘Repeat for each stakeholder’).
#6 Stakeholder Toolchain: I want to identify, categorize, and plan engagements for stakeholders
Venn Diagram with two circles. Left circle is labeled Identification and right circle is labeled Assessment. In the left circle, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Identification Canvas and Community Map. These are collectively labeled as ‘1’ with iteration arrows between them. In the intersection of the two circles, two tools are listed: Stakeholder Power Categories and Stakeholder Map & Matrix. These are collectively labeled as ‘2’ with iteration arrows between them. In the right circle, one tool is listed: Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas (labeled ‘3’ with iteration arrows and instructions to ‘Repeat for each stakeholder’).
While there are many stakeholder-related methods and tools on the market, our goal with these ITK stakeholder tools is to help teams quickly get started or unstuck when thinking through how to include relevant stakeholders for their effort. We encourage teams to use the ITK tools in combination with other market tools to create even more Stakeholder Toolchains.

Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Links to ITK Stakeholder Tools:

 

Which ITK Stakeholder tool should I use and when?

Which ITK Stakeholder tool should I use and when?

Tips on selecting from the 5 different ITK stakeholder tools

– – –

Planning for stakeholders falls into three general steps:

  1. Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder;
  2. Assessing which stakeholders to engage with; and
  3. Assessing the optimal engagement approach.

The Innovation Toolkit now has 5 stakeholder-related tools, which serve different purposes and are complementary with each other. These tools are best used early in the effort, but they can be revisited whenever the effort needs to interact or collaborate with the people involved, interested, or impacted by the effort.

Here are some quick tips for when to use each stakeholder tool.

ITK Tool What is it Scope of Tool When to use it Why use it

Stakeholder Identification Canvas

 

Ideate a more comprehensive & representative set of relevant stakeholders to your effort (Ideally) All stakeholders Step #1 – Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder The embedded equity lens helps broaden the team’s perspective to consider stakeholders beyond the default set

Community Map

 

A fast way to capture and prioritize stakeholders (Ideally) All stakeholders Step #1 – Identifying who is a relevant stakeholder Can be conducted very quickly because of the simple and intuitive categories (which can be tailored to the team’s effort)
Stakeholder Power Categories Quickly categorize and assess which stakeholders to engage Multiple stakeholders Step #2 – Assessing which stakeholders to engage with The embedded equity lens highlights impacted stakeholders and how to elevate their roles on the effort

Stakeholder Map & Matrix

 

Look across multiple stakeholders and categorize them according to key variables (e.g., interest, influence, impact) Multiple stakeholders Step #2 – Assessing which stakeholders to engage with Can assess and compare multiple stakeholders at the same time

Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas

 

A quick way to begin developing a plan for effectively engaging a stakeholder Individual stakeholder Step #3 – Assessing the optimal engagement approach The embedded equity lens helps the team explore four additional considerations beyond the default to help create more equity-informed engagements

While there are many stakeholder-related methods and tools on the market, our goal with these ITK stakeholder tools is to help teams quickly get started or unstuck when thinking through how to include relevant stakeholders for their effort. We encourage teams to use the ITK tools in combination with other market tools to successfully identify, assess, and plan engagements with stakeholders.

Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

 

Introducing the new ITK Stakeholder Power Categories tool!

Introducing the new ITK Stakeholder Power Categories tool!

Today’s blog is from Jonathan Rotner

Learn more about ITK’s newest tool and the equity lens embedded in it.

– – –

On first glance, this new tool might look like yet another 2×2 grid that helps your team prioritize its outcomes and actions. But this one comes from Team Toolkit, in collaboration with MITRE Social Justice Platform, so you know it drives outcomes and actions towards impact and equity.

Giving voice and a vote to those who are affected by an effort leads to more impact.

The ITK Stakeholder Power Categories tool prompts you to consider which stakeholder groups to prioritize, and it explores ways for you to integrate them into your teams. Using this tool can help your team adjust its goals, so they reflect the needs of those who will be most affected by the effort. It’s not walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, it’s walking that mile together!

Or, restating the goals of this tool in a more systems-engineering way, stakeholder engagement can be time-intensive, and this tool helps your team quickly categorize and assess which ones to engage, based on power and impact. For this activity, power over the effort refers to the ability to influence or control the behavior of people. Power comes in many forms: individuals have power, history has power, systems and the status quo have power, laws and norms have power, ideas and values have power, money has power. Impacted by the effort refers to the many ways that outcomes can affect an individual or group’s first-hand experiences.

Another goal of this tool is to highlight impacted stakeholders and to ideate on how to elevate their roles on your effort. Oftentimes, collaborating with those that are impacted will result in their endorsement of your effort and better outcomes for all. Deferring to those that are impacted may be the best way to ensure that the work continues and transitions to an engaged and invested community after your team moves on.

Direct participation from those who are overlooked or excluded leads to more equity.

A team’s assumptions about data, people’s behavior, potential uses, and the environment all shape an effort’s outcomes. These assumptions stem from team members’ own, often subconscious, social values, and they can be replicated and encoded into what the team designs. Unfortunately and unintentionally, those with the greatest need (i.e., those groups at the margins) often aren’t part of the design team; and so the final solution mimics the design team’s experience, rather than the lived experience of those with the greatest need. Therefore, the Stakeholder Power Categories tool asks how your team might increase participation, ownership, and self-governance of those who are highly impacted by the effort.

Direct participation by those at the margins is critical to reducing gaps in equity. These stakeholders can provide real context and experience in the domain where the effort will operate, and they can share information about how previous attempts to address their issues fared. These stakeholders can also help your team understand the different needs of different communities and how different approaches might distribute harm.[1]

Education and exposure are powerful tools. Sharing decision-making power has powerful outcomes. Equity-driven design thinking shows that when teams design for those at the margins, everyone benefits.[2]

So how might your team use the tool?

Start with the “when.” This tool is best used after you have identified a comprehensive and representative set of stakeholders that are relevant to the effort. (Or revisit this tool as the effort evolves, to ensure that the right set of stakeholders are still involved.)

The activity starts by helping your team get a better a sense of what the stakeholder landscape looks like, through the lenses of power and impact. The instructions first ask you to consider how much each stakeholder will be impacted by the effort. This section is intended to expand collaboration beyond the usual players.

Next, the instructions ask your team to consider the amount of power each stakeholder has over the effort. This part of the exercise helps your team think through the many ways in which inequality and internal assumptions can creep into the design, despite everyone’s best intent.

The “Notice and reflect” section promotes equitable outcomes. Before grappling with changing course or shuffling priorities, look at the 2×2 grid you just filled in. Read the quadrant descriptions and notice the patterns that have emerged: Are there any quadrants that are over- or under- represented? Did the team miss anyone?

The ITK Stakeholder Power Categories tool offers four questions that prompt your team towards different ways to make change. These questions suggest that those with lived experience (having personal knowledge or first-hand experience of the problem) are key contributors to a proposed solution. Answering these questions will not only help your team assess who should join the effort, but also help your team start to think through how you’ll invite them to do so.

And like all ITK tools, the final part of the tool reemphasizes that you act on your insights. What did your team discover after going through the exercise, and what will it do next?

Seriously, tell us! Team Toolkit can’t wait to hear about it.

Interested in learning more about other ITK tools with an embedded equity lens?

[1] “The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership.” Facilitating Power Engagement approaches. Community Commons. Accessed June 29, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/facilitatingpower/pages/53/attachments/original/1596746165/CE2O_SPECTRUM_2020.pdf?1596746165

[2] “Design for the Margins: City Accelerator Guest Commentary.” YouTube, July 16, 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7O9etlevyw

 

 

 

Introducing the new ITK Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas!

Introducing the new ITK Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas!

Learn more about ITK’s newest tool and the equity lens embedded in it.

– – –

As part of Team Toolkit’s collaboration with the MITRE Social Justice Platform, we are excited to announce the addition of a new tool – the ITK Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement Canvas!

The ITK Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement canvas is a quick way to begin developing a plan for effectively engaging a stakeholder. This tool is best used early in the process, but it’s an important step whenever you need to interact or collaborate with the people involved, interested, or impacted by your project.

This canvas is divided into two complementary sides – “Analysis” and “Engagement”. The “Analysis” side of the canvas helps your team identify and assess a stakeholder’s needs, wants, and influence. It also helps your team get clear on their wants and needs, which will help identify where the team’s priorities do or do not match with the stakeholder.

The “Engagement” side of the canvas helps your team consider how to approach the first (or next) engagement with the stakeholder. It asks your team to consider the context surrounding this stakeholder so that your team can work to avoid any missteps. It also encourages your team to consider two notional scenarios: A wildly successful engagement or a bad engagement. Similar to the Premortem, the practice of imagining these future scenarios will help your team identify potential problems, risks, or blind spots before they occur.

In addition, the embedded equity lens helps your team explore four additional considerations beyond the default to help create more equity-informed engagements. This helps broaden your team’s thinking and raise their collective awareness, both of which can help inspire new thinking and opportunities for innovation.

The first equity-minded consideration asks your team to identify relevant historical events that may continue to impact the stakeholder today, rather than focusing only on present-day conditions. The embedded equity lens asks about past disappointments and historical harms that the stakeholder may have experienced. It prompts your team to consider how they might be more mindful of these occurrences when engaging with the stakeholder.

Another equity-minded consideration that this tool asks about is lived experience (a.k.a. relevant first-hand experience) that the stakeholder may have. This is often an overlooked, but critically important, type of expertise.

The third equity-minded consideration is the explicit discussion of power, which is often imbalanced in inequitable situations. It’s also often uncomfortable to name or discuss. By including power questions on the canvas, it allows for a more open and direct conversation with your team rather than relying on someone to bring it up on their own.

Lastly, the fourth equity-minded consideration is to prompt your team to examine their own biases and assumptions that they may be bringing to this engagement. The ability to notice and reflect are critical to equity driven design thinking, which encourages us to create not just inclusive and diverse solutions, but to create equitable solutions.

While there are many stakeholder-related methods and tools on the market, our goal with this new ITK tool is to help teams quickly get started or get unstuck when thinking through how to engage a stakeholder. We encourage teams to use the ITK Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement in combination with the ITK Stakeholder Identification Canvas or other market tools to begin developing your stakeholder engagement strategy. Revisiting your engagement strategy throughout your effort will ensure that the right set of people, groups, and organizations are involved at the right time.

We hope you find the ITK Quickstart Stakeholder Engagement canvas useful, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Interested in learning more about other ITK tools with an embedded equity lens?

The ITK Tool Development Process

The ITK Tool Development Process

As MITRE’s Innovation Toolkit continues to evolve and mature, we’ve been reflecting on how we create new tools (and update existing tools). The short version is we do it iteratively. For the longer version… read on!

Most of the tools you see on our website are actually version 7 or version 15 or version 382. The point is pretty much all of them went through considerable modifications on their way to the version you see on the website.

Except maybe the Lotus Blossom. Pretty sure that one popped up fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Aside from that single exception, all the other tools are the result of an ongoing series of prototypes and experiments. Sometimes we’ve even used one tool to develop another tool… then updated the first tool based on our experience developing the second one. It gets pretty meta around here sometimes. While that may sound a bit convoluted, we actually have a pretty straightforward way of describing the tool development process. It’s built around a theater / tv show metaphor, and it goes something like this:

An idea for a new tool starts in the Café, where one or two people begin sketching out a rough idea and produce an initial incomplete draft. Maybe they have a casual chat with someone at the next table over, or maybe they have their headphones on as they draw and sketch and write. In Broadway terms, this is where Lin-Manuel composes that first rap and starts laying out the overall structure of Hamilton.

"

Alexander Hamilton

Next, we move to the Writer’s Room. This is where a group gathers to co-create the tool and further develop it from the Café version. They play with phrases and formats, identify and address gaps in the tool. The idea is for the initial instigator to bring in some collaborators who help transform the incomplete idea into the first complete draft. In the world of musical theater, this might be where a lyricist brings in a composer (or vice versa), or a writer brings in a co-author.

Next is a special type of casual rehearsal called a Table Read, where we test a basic version of the tool with people who weren’t involved in creating it. The point here is to invite new perspectives & contributors. To use Hamilton terms again, this is where Leslie Odom Jr shows up and the writers get to see how the lines actually sound when the actor says them (and continue to rewrite the lines based on that observation & discussion).

Eventually we get to the Dress Rehearsal, where a complete version of the tool is used in a closed environment, to really put it through its paces… without an audience. Unlike the table read, in our dress rehearsal our focus goes beyond the tool itself and now includes facilitation techniques and logistics. In our theater metaphor, this is where the script is basically locked down and the director confirms the lighting, blocking, and choreography.

Then we come to Opening Night, the first time the tool is used with an external group, sponsor, etc. This is still an opportunity to test & evaluate & modify the tool, so we’re all watching and taking notes about changes to make in the next version.

The Full Run means the tool is field-tested, polished, and proven. We might make some small tweaks at this point, adjust the choreography slightly or make little tweaks to the dialogue, but by now the thing is pretty much solid & we can do 8 shows a week. As an added bonus, the understudies get opportunities step on stage… and the writer goes back to the café.

As you see, like a Broadway show, developing a new ITK tool is generally an iterative, collaborative process. One person can instigate and take a certain degree of ownership for a tool, one person can shepherd it through the whole process, pick co-authors and hold own auditions, etc. But nobody has to write / produce / sing / dance / etc in a one-person performance. There are plenty of people available to lend a hand and help transform the spark of an idea into a big hit…