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Interviewing Stakeholders - A Crucial Part of Design Thinking Methodology Based Initiatives

4 Sep 2023 6:25 AM | Sewa International (Administrator)

Date: 4th Sep, 2023
Author: Anoushka Rai,
Sophomore, SHS, DTL Student, Chicago Chapter

Interviewing Stakeholders during Design to Lead Project

Case Study based on first hand account of a High Schooler working on a DTL project

Design to Lead Program from Sewa International, which is inspired by the BioDesign program of Stanford University, provides an opportunity to High School Students to come together as teams to find solutions for a variety of needs in their community.

Interviewing stakeholders is a very important part of following this Design Thinking methodology. Here I will share my understanding of this process and experience while working on the DTL project- “Educational inequity in underserved communities” in the hope that it might help future students enrolled in this program.

Which Phase Interview starts- Importance

The Design to Lead program has three phases, Identify, Invent, and Implement. I found that Interviewing stakeholders is not restricted by the phases. It starts at the very beginning and one needs to go back to stakeholders multiple times during the project.There is no better source of information than data gathered directly from stakeholders themselves In my opinion, the following aspects of the interview process are the most significant :

  • Who to Interview?
  • How to schedule an interview?
  • What to ask?

Who to Interview?

What do we really mean by Stakeholders? Stakeholders in this context are people involved for a particular situation like Education in our case,at various levels. Those who are directly involved and those who have indirect involvement as well.

For our project: We identified the possible stakeholders we would like to interview in order to validate our findings during secondary research. The objective was validation as well as to gain the understanding of what Educational inequity really means specifically in our community. We wanted to identify how it is perceived at various levels. The goal was to identify the real need in the community. Coming up with a list after Brainstorming and then categorizing them helped make a stakeholder map as in the picture.

How to Schedule an interview?

In order to schedule an interview we had to search for specific individuals, find their contact information and approach them politely and ask for scheduling an interview. Making a spreadsheet and assigning roles to everyone in the team helped. We made email templates as well as pointers to talk about while talking or leaving a voicemail as well. An important thing to note is that we modified our emails based on our experience.

Before an Interview

Once an interview is scheduled make sure you are well prepared for the interview. The following checklist might come handy.

What to ask?

Discovering people’s needs are important, rather than just asking them what they need.

Henry Ford understood this when he said, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said ‘a faster horse.” Although people often can’t tell us what their needs are, their behaviors can provide us with invaluable clues about their range of unmet needs.

Lessons Learnt

From my personal experience I can tell it is important to keep going. Many times when you call stakeholders you will not get a response, but be persistent. Once you get through one of them and during the process they realize you are genuinely trying to help and make a difference, you will get support and more connections. Always ask for feedback and take it positively to improve. The more you immerse yourself in the process the better your outcome will be.

Further Resources

Sources used for this Blog

  • Sewa International Design to Lead Curriculum
  • Design to Lead Didactic Sessions by Professor Anurag Mairal, Stanford University
  • Semi Structured Interviews : Guidance for novice researchers Lisa S Whiting, Nov 2027
  • Tim Brown, Change by Design.
  • All infographics and checklists are created by me for the purpose of the blog and are copyrighted. They cannot be used for any other purpose without written permission.
  • The images used are from Canva and are royalty free as a subscribed user.

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