Checking in

Welcome to Spaghetti Lab 2! We have a new problem to solve, and a new team to work together to design the solution. Simon and Tim who were participants from Lab 1 will be participating in this new task, to be joined by Dalbir, Des, and Sue from the Web Content Management team in Customer Services to work on the challenge which has been set for us.

Lab 1 was principally about learning and testing the process, but with Lab 2, as well as iterating and refining the process, and sharing it out to a wider group of people, we have an additional goal – to have an outcome at the end of the week which will be turned into a real product as part of the council’s digital transformation project.

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As with Lab 1, the first morning session consisted of introductions and early team-building exercises – an introduction to the process for the benefit of Dalbir, Des, and Sue, followed by a period of questioning and sharing during a walk around Digbeth; from each other we learned things such as where we think we’ll be in five years time, what keeps us working for the organisation, and what we think we might like to work as in a parallel universe.

Then after lunch we were joined by Paula, our Customer Service service director, and Natasha, from the council’s Adoption and Fostering team, to be set our brief:

How¬†might we enable Birmingham’s ‘pragmatic doers’ to see the potential in fostering Birmingham’s looked after children?

We learned from Natasha that there is currently a shortage of new people coming forward each year to join the pool of potential foster parents to meet the needs of children the council has responsibility for, and we also learned that despite the many misconceptions about the requirements to be a foster parent (did you know that the only cast iron requirements are for you to be over 21, with a spare room in your house, and no criminal convictions against a child? Anything else which you might think might stop you from being accepted can be discussed on a case by case basis!), the service has a reasonable number of initial contacts enquiring about being a foster parent, but from those initial contacts there’s a high abandonment rate. The problem we need to solve is how to use a website and wider digital technology to make the service more attractive to potential fosterers in the first place, and then keep them engaged through the whole application, training, and placement process.

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And to end the day we created an initial Customer Journey Map of how a new foster parent joins the system, from how they initially learn about the service’s existence, what the touch points are as they make their initial enquiries, and how once they are in the system they are kept engaged. From this we can carry out an early analysis of where the issues might lay and how to start solving them.

Tomorrow, we meet the public!