Chaos or Creativity?
I see this sign on my wall every day, and never has it been more real to me than now. Like so many, 2020 knocked me down. I lost people I loved, I lost my in-person workshop business, and I lost my ability to do many of my favorite things – jazz concerts, daily gym visits, eating out at new restaurants, theater. — everything that required being with others! Lots of loss. But that sign kept calling me out every single day.
After months of wallowing, I decided it was time to get creative. After all, I teach design thinking! I can apply it to my new reality and design new ways to work, play, be healthy and have relationships.
I started with work, since it’s also my livelihood. I met with my business partner, the awesome Kathy Davies, and after much mutual empathizing (first design step) we framed the problem worth solving (second design step). How can we design a digital Designing Your Life solution that is more compelling and intimate than our in-person retreats? Then we started designing, prototyping, testing and have iterated into an innovative solution with industry leading NPS scores!
A New DYL Interactive Journey
We began with the belief that if we created a journey over time, we would be able to give our participants the Life Design Process©, tools, support and time they needed to actually DO the life design process, not just learn about it. We settled on one month after testing and having over 90% of the participants say this length was “just right”. Our solution became a combination of interactive zoom sessions, a new DYL app that delivered daily content, actions and social learning among the community, and a participant generated “Who’s Who” digital book that facilitated individual connections. Here’s what the journey looks like:
We Turned Zoom on its Head
In our three zoom sessions, 95% of the workshop is devoted to “radical collaboration” in breakout sessions where diverse groups engage in using design thinking tools and mindsets to meet their pressing needs. They empathize, frame and reframe problems, ideate, prototype and test possibilities in pairs, trios, and groups of six, constantly engaging with different people to get input on their life design challenges. Over half the participants said the “radical collaboration” was the most impactful part of the full program. It wasn’t uncommon to hear, “Getting out of my head and into collaboration has been life changing.” Shifting from instructor-led to collaborative communities transforms the zoom experience.
Our New DYL App Delivers Daily Support
We chose to work with 1st90 to build the DYL App because their habit building platform met all our requirements for structured support, and their team is fast, fun to work with, and collaborative. Our goal was to deliver DYL practices in micro-learning “bites” and have our participants put those practices into action, building new life design habits. We wanted a structure that would help people practice, nudging them with daily exercises. We also wanted to intentionally create a life design community, so the social learning capabilities of 1st90 were unique and particularly important. The ability for participants to share their personal challenges and insights gained throughout the journey deepened the learning and facilitated connection and community. One participant summed this up when she said, “The social component is priceless.”
App Engagement is a Wow!
Our users actively engaged in the DYL app, which was positioned as an important part of the experience but not mandatory. We built 16 micro-learning modules with 16 action steps. 89% of our participants completed all 16 steps, with an overall engagement level of 95%. Since average user engagement with a commercial app is as low as 30% and average e-learning completion rates are 15%, the DYL App exceeded all industry measures and our own expectations. And this was with an optional app in a consumer implementation!
What Do Users Say?
- “I hate apps, but this one is great. The daily reminders, the ease of use and the structure as a one stop shop platform is super helpful.”
- “I liked seeing progress and steps completed, the micro steps for each core step, and that you can click on “community” and go to comment threads.
- “I like the “explore” icon which lets me see all the worksheets and resources.”
- “The app helped to keep me engaged and on track.”
- “The daily exercises gave me great insights which I could take action on.”
- “It was a great way to create a routine to design my life.”
We started with a problem frame of “How can we design a digital DYL solution that is more compelling and intimate than our in-person workshops?” and we answered it with a month-long digital journey. It’s intimate in ways we didn’t imagine. We see names in the zoom gallery and can identify every participant as well as engage everyone in key conversations using chat. We can contribute to the social learning in the DYL app in between the zoom sessions, answering questions and providing resources.
When we asked for feedback on what part of the program made the biggest difference, we discovered it wasn’t a specific component. “It was the whole experience — connecting with other women, the breaks, mindful exercises, collaboration (especially loved the ideation sessions), the app with daily exercises, the community sharing — all was a great way to stay connected and catalog insights as we went along.” (DYL Participant, January 2021)
I smile at the challenge in my sign every morning as I continue to design creative ways to work and thrive in the chaos of our times.