Design Thinking & Multi-Actor Approach in NIVA

Step3 – IDEATE

Christine O’Meara (TSSG), Dave Hearne (TSSG) Ursula Kenny (TEAGASC)

New IACS Vision In Action (NIVA) a H2020 funded project, aims to develop and implement technologies that will deliver a more seamless Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in particular through improvements to the key administrative control platform (the instrument for CAP governance) – Integrated Administrative Control System. In Ireland, an interdisciplinary team led by the Department of Agriculture is working on Use Case 4a, working with TSSG (application development) and Teagasc (Socio-economic research supporting adoption) to develop a geo-tagged photo mobile application which will be used to resolve claim queries.

This fourth blog post in our NIVA mini-series provides an overview of the third step [IDEATE] of the design thinking and multi-actor approach employed in NIVA. For additional background on the implementation of the approaches employed and NIVA please have a look at the first post in the series here or check out the first [EMPATHISE] and second stages [DEFINE]in the process.

The IDEATE stage involved working with key stakeholders to (i) generate ideas for the application design that meet their needs and expectations and (i) identify supports to drive adoption of the app among the farming community. The app is co-created with input gathered from these stakeholders in a series of structured sessions. The process is designed in a manner that encourages creativity and a wide range of ideas. There is an emphasis on breadth of suggestions as workshop facilitators encouraged participants to put everything on the table no matter how far-fetched concepts might seem. Ultimately, the ideation workshop techniques are chosen to help drive additional innovation and to help the team go beyond the obvious.

A total of 4 workshops were completed using a purposive sampling strategy, which is designed to recruit the most relevant participants. The table below summarises profile and participation levels.

After completion of the first workshop there was a small delay in subsequent sessions due to travel and meeting restrictions resulting from the pandemic. Online collaboration tools had to be identified and idea generation techniques slightly modified to facilitate the transition to online engagement. Despite initial concerns over the change in format, the online sessions were very successful. There was less verbal discussion but a high volume of ideas submitted using digital post-it notes.     A separate blog post will discuss in more detail the unique experiences of adapting the workshop to different contexts but the remainder of this post will concentrate on highlighting some of the feedback obtained from workshop participants based on persona-based exercises and Crazy 8’s.

1.      Persona profiles: A number of different user profiles were created and randomly distributed to working groups in the workshops. These personas varied by age, occupation level of familiarity with technology and attitudinal characteristics. Workshop participants were asked to discuss their needs and what factors would help ensure use of the app by this user. A sample persona is illustrated below.

There was some commonality of needs identified by many of the personas with essential requirements including availability of training, help services and a simple user interface. Additional needs were identified for certain users with advisors and also certain categories of famers that may be wary of self implication needing high levels of assurance around safety and security of data exchange.

2.      The Crazy 8’s exercises consisted of  asking groups of participants a series of ‘How might we’ questions with each team encouraged to give at least 8 x solutions in 8 x minutes to each question. Given the 3 problem dimensions [Technology, Trust, Value] identified in the earlier DEFINE stage , 3 x sample ‘how might we’ answers are selected and summarised below.

a.      How might we design an app that farmers agree is easy to use? [TECHNOLOGY]. The answers touched on a wide variety of areas and included high level of responsiveness, ability to save and check data before submitting and simple login (e.g. biometrics). Additional suggestions included the ability to use the app in offline mode and to use with one hand. Examples of apps that farmers find easy to use include DoneDeal and HerdWatch.

b.      How might we ensure the app improves communications with the farmer and the Deaprtment? [TRUST] Ideas here were numerous and included chat facility, push notifications for reminders, instant feedback on status, prompt response v phonecalls, flags for issues with submission, timelines and ticket systems for support, with quite a lot of repetition across various groups.

c.       How might we best pitch the idea of the app to farmers and advisors? [VALUE] There was general agreement that reduced risk of inspection would be a good incentive to farmers to use the app and for the app to be freely available without cost to all. Additionally it was felt that faster resolution of queries would likely  prompt farmers to adopt once deployed.

The workshop targetted at NIVA partners, in particular other European paying agencies, had additional ‘how might we’ questions in relation to how technology could be advanced to support their work and the EU agenda. Some fundamental parameters included features such as instant photo validation, integration with mail/cloud storage and open ability to localize with ease. Additional innovative features identified included automated image processing, AI/ML components, AR feature and interoperability with FMIS.

The UC4A team considers that the IDEATION stage has been successful both in terms of the level of meaningful stakeholder engagment  and breadth of responses and inputs received. The initial prototype is nearing completion and will be discussed in an upcoming blog post.