Cultivating a community of systems thinking practitioners
The Omidyar Group, an ambitious philanthropic organization tackling intractable social impact challenges, needed a vibrant digital hub that could hold their collective wisdom and tools for systems thinking.
Working in close collaboration with The Omidyar Group, we built an online platform that provides practitioners with a robust collection of tools and a friction-free way to share work and best practices.
The five-month, extensive UX design engagement began with deeply understanding needs and then designing and developing features through iterative wire framing, storyboarding, interaction and visual design. Tight design+engineering sprint cycles led to an on-schedule, robust product launch in 2018.
Designed for novices and experts alike
“I don’t want to give someone the keys to a Ferrari when they don’t know how to drive a tricycle around the block.”
“I want to know what is new and emergent for the systems practice.”
We realized that practitioners had different levels of systems expertise. To support the needs of the beginner, the main navigation and structure of the Hub mirrored the phases of a systems journey familiar to The Omidyar Group. This structure allowed us to provide a step by step, peanut-butter-and-jelly learning approach to those who are new to systems, while allowing the more experienced to explore advanced content, still contextualized within the phases of the systems journey.
A hub for learning, built by the community, for the community
We made it easy for systems practitioners to find all kinds of resources, from existing and emerging tools to stories and experiences from their peers across organizations.
Because the leading edge of learning was taking place within projects and teams, The Omidyar Group wanted to enable easy sharing of diverse project content, while maintaining some visual coherency across the site. The tile based design and the preview experience of the resources ensures a consistent experience irrespective of the visual quality of the diverse resources being uploaded to the Systems Hub.
An efficient and responsive user experience
These practitioners are pursuing challenging and important work, which also means that they are often time scarce. Mobile access, robust search functionality, and dynamic queries to expert systems practitioners within the organization expands the Hub’s functionality beyond simply a knowledge management tool.
Taking it offline and making it personal
Learning from previously failed organizational efforts to connect people through bespoke digital platforms, we decided instead to use the content on the Hub to spark meaningful offline in-person dialogue. By featuring and elevating the individuals and teams that are doing the impactful work and sharing their contact information, we encouraged people to reach out beyond the Hub, both through established organizational channels such as Slack and through in-person connections.
The Systems Hub, launched in 2018, supports a thriving community of 500 practitioners who hope to have greater impact by applying a systemic lens to the world’s most intractable challenges. The Hub provides an invaluable way for them to access robust tools and the best thinking of their peers.