Designing a Human-Centered Workplace

Designing and Testing Solutions

Designing and Testing Solutions

How do I design solutions that will make an impact?
How do I test on a small scale before investing in something that might not work?


Why does this matter?

Producing ideas to improve jobs is one thing; implementing those ideas is quite another. By working with key stakeholders to design solutions, you’ll be more able to identify details that help the idea stick. But before you roll out a new program, we suggest you slow down and test your idea.

Test before you invest. Testing tells you if your assumptions are true. For instance, do employees learn more in a different onboarding model? Do listening sessions make staff feel supported? Use these small-scale tests to figure out if ideas merit additional time and resources or learn how to reshape them so they work better for your employees.

Brainstorming With The Team

Before you can test an idea, you have to generate one you’re excited to move forward with. Beyond knowing you’ll need sticky notes and markers, how do you actually get the ideas rolling?

  • Set the stage. Gather the core team and other creative thinkers together to come up with ideas. You might want to spend a few hours on this activity. Keep the energy high and make it fun by offering food, playing music, and inviting people to draw and share ideas.
  • Start with a key question or problem you’re trying to solve. This will help you stay focused while allowing room for creative solutions. One key question might be: How do we foster empathy in manager-employee exchanges?
  • Bring examples from your focus groups. Going back to what you learned from employees can provide inspiration and invite diverse ideas.
  • Reserve judgment. Don’t be afraid of “bad” or “wild” ideas. Throw an idea out there and invite others to add to it. You never know what will inspire someone else!

Once you have some ideas, narrow down your favorite ones and add some details. How does this actually work? Who is involved? This will spark discussion and give you some specific details to test. This is also a great time to bring focus group participants back for feedback.

Tips for Testing Ideas

Employer Spotlight

Training for Change

A construction company in the Midwest learned that job site supervisors who lacked soft skills had a harder time managing crews, leading to high and costly turnover. The collaborative work team brainstormed and decided to create a leadership development skills-training program. The team identified an outside facilitator to host a 90-minute workshop on managing team conflict and recruited six job site supervisors to complete the training. To gauge the impact of the training, the team posed follow-up questions to job site supervisors and crew members. The supervisors reported greater appreciation for the training, and crew members said they noticed a clear difference in the way their supervisor approached them. With greater confidence in the training’s value, the company put all 30 job site supervisors through the program, and the firm is exploring other job quality improvement efforts.



“Start small – now we experiment at the small scale before we roll something out to the entire company.”
— Vice President, Human Resources


Design and Test Your Prototype

Set aside 30-60 minutes to plan, plus time to test.


This worksheet covers four steps to help you plan and test your idea:

  1. Decide what to test
  2. Conduct your test
  3. Learn from your test
  4. Iterate and repeat


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