Design workshop with Sprytar & Manchester City Council

3 min read

We facilitate different kinds of design workshops at Common Good. Internal, external, in-project, bespoke, one-offs, for events…etc.

Human-centricity design workshops bring participant’s focus back to the primary user. They are ideal for teams who don’t spend a lot of time working together and are in the process of developing a product. The activities for the workshop are cherrypicked from the Common Good 6-week design process and adjusted to the objectives of the organisation(s).

Our latest workshop of this kind was with Manchester City Council and the Sprytar app team. Common Good designers participated and co-facilitated throughout the day, with support from Tom Matthews, product owner, who provided guidance on what the app could and could not do to date. The experts in the room were members from the Park and Open Spaces city council team, who shared insights about use, services, visitors and events.

“Really great session, I particularly enjoyed how fast things moved once I got over the initial shock!”- Kylie Ward, Parks Lead at Manchester City Council

The workshop helped all participants:

  • Park their day-to-day responsibilities and get some perspective on the task at hand.
  • Remember who Sprytar is being designed for.
  • Think beyond the product and remember what people are doing (or trying to do) before and after using Sprytar.
  • Put exciting features to one side and prioritise features that will add value.

To get there, we used four different tools:

1. Behavioural personas. First, we used the knowledge in the room to ask ourselves: who goes to a park in Manchester? We created six clusters of interesting park goers. The clusters to focus on were: ‘families’ and ‘individuals who provide a fitness service’ (yoga teachers for example).

Then we broke up into two small teams and completed a Behavioural Persona template (learn to make one here). We shared the completed personas as a group and added to each other’s work to develop them further. Using dots to highlight which needs and goals were being met by Sprytar, we got a sense of the differences and overlap between a park persona and a Sprytar persona.


2. Claire Menk’s Foundational Research Framework. As her blog brilliantly explains, brings together attitude, situation and experience in one place. In our version of the model, we layered the Family Behavioural Persona, the Jobs to Be Done and the experience (feelings) they went through. The resulting map showed how much stress there is before visiting the park and how important timing is when asking for feedback on the app.

3. A priority leaderboard. On the board, we listed the app features we wanted to move forward with (and the new ones that came up), the assumptions behind it, whether or not a test had been done and whether it met a primary persona need or not.

4. ‘Now, Next, Future’ prioritisation columns, helped us quickly layout our options and discuss next steps. The trick to this exercise is to have an assertive facilitation tone, so there is little overthinking.

Tools and objectives would not work without empathetic facilitation. To ensure everyone felt comfortable, we spent time introducing ourselves at the beginning of the day. We also reminded everyone that there is no wrong or right and kept the tone informal but productive.

The outputs of the workshop included a backlog of priorities for the developers, and the discovery of new tools and ways of working for everyone moving forward. Everyone was amazed at the value that a workshop could bring for all.

To close the day, we checked-out and shared what we took away from the session — how we felt after such a fast-paced experience. The biggest learning was how bringing all stakeholders together could quickly create a shared common goal and language around the design and vision of the product.