Ideation session outputs and prototypes


We briefly talked about our ideation sessions in one of our previous posts, but wanted to be sure to give a recap since we completed all the sessions. (Wondering what an ideation session is? Learn more here!)

In November we held four ideation sessions with recent candidates, hiring managers and HR professionals. Three of the sessions had the same curriculum which focused on unpacking ideas for how we might address the issues we face in hiring. The fourth session focused on gathering the content for an informational hiring timeline for hiring managers and candidates. The concept of a hiring timeline is one that has come up in many conversations, and we thought we’d get a group together to create the first version.

Recap of the ideation sessions

The ideation session consisted of:

  1. An interactive ice-breaker (inspired by improv).

2. Individual reflection time on what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes. This project has three main users: candidates, hiring managers and HR professionals. It’s important to be reminded of this.

3. Creating problem statements, or “how might we” statements. These short and succinct sentences allow the group to quickly understand what the area of opportunity is while providing space for creative problem solving.

4. Unpacking what it might look like to implement x idea. This included a conversation around key stakeholders, key activities 3, 6, 9 months out, risks, and defining what success looks like.

Some really great ideas were unpacked. Though we won’t have time to go over all of them, we’ve included a few of them below as well as a summary of how many ideas address each service module.

Note: there was 1 additional idea pertaining to the “Succession Planning” which is the 7th module we are in the process of adding

Some of our favourites include:

(SME = subject matter expert)

These are all critical vision statements and components that will be informing the RFP.

What have we prototyped so far?

Hiring timelines

We mentioned we held an ideation session specifically for a timeline for hiring managers and candidates. The biggest takeaways were:

  • When you actually get into the details, this is actually a fairly complex concept. Especially if you start thinking about how this could be interactive based on real-time data.
  • The content is very different depending on the user (hiring manager vs candidate).

Hiring manager timeline

At its most basic form, would include:

  • Context on appointment (hiring) types
  • How the process varies depending on the appointment type
  • Overview steps of the process in plain speak
  • Average duration of steps

At its most complex form, would include:

  • Dynamic timeline with indicator showing you where you are in the process (based on real-time data)
  • One single user-friendly dashboard indicating where your various positions are at in the hiring process
  • Time-stamps when each step was completed
  • A single point of contact for consistent support

Candidate timeline

At its most basic form, would include:

  • Overview steps of the process in plain speak
  • Average duration of steps
  • An email to contact

At its most complex form, would include:

  • Dynamic timeline with indicator showing you where you are in the process (based on real-time data)
  • What’s next (email/text reminder indicating what is next in the process)
  • A single point of contact for consistent support

We decided to move forward with an informational 1 pager, created in Google slides for easy editing/commenting and sharing across departments.

First version of hiring timeline for hiring managers
First version of hiring timeline for candidates

Self-Scheduler Pilot

The second prototype we’ve been working on is a self-scheduler for a role that is in the interview stage. Scheduling interviews is a pain point for hiring managers, HR professionals and candidates as it involves a lot of back and forth emailing and coordinating multiple schedules.

We set up automated emails that tracked who opened, and clicked within the email. We also provided links to decline the interview and a link to schedule the interview based on pre-identified date and time slots.

Some initial data includes:

  • 100% read the email informing them of the opportunity to interview
  • 64% scheduled an interview
  • 9% declined the opportunity and provided a reason for declining

Interviews are in-progress at the moment and we’ll have more to share in one of our next posts.

What’s next?

We have a few things we’re working on that are currently in progress, but will be able to share more later.

We’re working on mapping out system data flows to understand how data is being captured at different points in the hiring process and how this would flow between the applicant tracking system and San Francisco’s current human capital management tool PeopleSoft.

We’re also working on mapping out what an ideal future candidate, hiring manager and HR professional hiring experience might look like in a perfect world. This creates a vision to aspire towards and keeps us grounded in user-centered needs.

We’re presenting to the Civil Service Commission and Labor Unions next week.

Here are more relevant readings on modular/agile RFPs:

“the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Federal Procurement Policy directed agencies to stop using SOWs and shift to using a Performance Work Statement (PWS) for acquiring services. A PWS “should state requirements in general terms of what (result) is to be done, rather than how (method) it is done” Good contracting officers advise agencies that by buying expert services, it implies that you’re not the most knowledgeable in “how” work is done. As the mission owner, you are the expert in “what,” must get accomplished, but conflating the two puts your mission at risk and makes it harder for a contract to provide value.”

As always, if you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at: We’d love to hear from you!

-David and Monique

Monique Baena-Tan is Researcher and Service Designer for the Hiring Modernization Project. Most recently Monique led design research on Code for America’s talent initiative which included a job board to help technologists find opportunities in public interest tech, and documented best practices across the country in government hiring.

David Huebner is Project Manager and Strategy Advisor for the Hiring Modernization Project. He most recently worked at Code for America where he led a talent initiative focused on helping governments improve their people practices to ensure they can hire and retain technologists to deliver services most effectively. Previously, David worked at Google as a Manager on a strategy, analytics and effectiveness team focusing on hiring and people services.



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