Can we solve a problem without building a new product

Streamlining the operation process for Ginsberg Center.

affinity wall

SEP-DEC, 2019

(4 months)



Affinity diagram,

Usability testing


Alexis Lopez Medina,

Hsin-yu Yang,

Hyeong-bin Jo,

Shwetha Rajaram,

Ningdan Zhang


About Edward Ginsberg center

The Edward Ginsberg Center strives to facilitate professional relationships between community partners and University of Michigan organizations for the purpose of inspiring “social change for the public good’

Our team was tasked with investigating this issue of organizational efficiency and formulating recommendations to improve the administrative process for the Learning in Community (LinC) Workshops.


Our process

We conducted interviews with six members of the Ginsberg staff and used qualitative data analysis methods to elicit key observations. These findings informed our future research and led us to propose four recommendations for changes to the LinC workshop administrative process.



Product designer vs Consultant?

As I started this course, I was struggling in understanding the value of consulting: what is the difference we’re making, if this doesn’t end up with a new ‘product’?

After I've talked with a lot of people, both from product background and business background, I came to this analogy — Product designers are like medicinal chemists, we solve problems by exploring new solutions. Consults are like doctors, they solve the problem by suggesting the best solution among the existing ones.

wish – finding



Don't afraid of asking why

After conducted two interviews out of the total six interviews, I found this model is the most helpful to keep in mind during the interview. The interviewer started from one point(what), ask the interviewees to describe the process(how) and the reasons behind their decisions(why). During that process, the interviewer might found another valuable point and start the next 'what'.

I highlighted the ‘why’ part in the diagram because it is both the most important part and the hardest part. It’s important because the reasoning directly reveals the interviewee’s value system, and we have to make our recommendations align with their value measurement. It is hard because the interviewee might struggle to put together a reason they might have never thought of before. It is also challenging for the interviewer to avoid aggressiveness and awkwardness.


interview highlight
Affinity diagram

Looking for patterns out of qualitative data.

We used an affinity diagram to find patterns out of the qualitative data we collected.

Working models

Building models out of qualitative data.

Work models are introduced by the book The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. It is a useful way to visualize the complex system.

The flow model shows communication and coordination between employees. It reveals communication patterns and responsibility distributions inside the organization

role diagram – 0

The sequence model shows the detailed steps performed to accomplish each task. It helped us to capture lagging and jam in the admin process.

sequence flow

The artifact model shows the tools and deliverables that are used and created in the process. It helped us to evaluate the

Ginsberg@2x (2)


Final suggestions

In our final report, we distilled mainly three suggestions to solve the problem. This is how we reach these suggestions:


Role redistribution


Tracker redesign


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