Make it. MSP. is an initiative of Greater MSP that aims to get tech professionals to move to MSP. They have predicted that there will be 100,000 tech jobs by 2020 that are unable to be filled with the current pool of qualified candidates.
Make It. MSP. has conducted research about the migration climate via Facebook ads and Dan Linstroff shared this information with us. Dan challenged us to come up with an idea that could be implemented in the next 6 months to drive migration to the Twin Cities. He was interested in the MVO (minimum viable offering), future goals, and methods of measuring success. My team consisted for Jalen Even, Joel Lueders, and Bret Zimmerman.
Bret Zimmerman, Kiell Kosberg, Laura Martin, & Joel Lueders
Before jumping into brainstorming, we each did an individual deep dive into Make It. MSP.'s world. For my research, I combed their website for mission statements, goals, and stats. Then I looked elsewhere. I investigated sponsored initiatives, partner organizations, the competitive space and migration trends.
What resources are currently available for those relocating for tech jobs? Where are these tech professionals coming from? What are the barriers to moving? Who is migrating? Why are they migrating?
Make It. MSP. provided us with the target markets, segments and messages they wanted to focus on, based on their research. These were a few of the many materials given to us. After compiling our research findings and the data provided to us, we rolled over a white board and started brainstorming.
Our initial inkling was to parse through Make It. MSP's research. We wrote down what we knew, what we didn't know and what we were assuming, From here we tried to find patterns. We averaged the performance of each message and ranked them to determine what messages to focus on. As a group, we considered these ideas at a 10,000 foot view and then narrowed down to assess feasibility and connect our decisions back to the research.
In an effort to expand our reach and focus on diversity, we decided to narrow in on the 5 markets outside of the Midwest- Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, DC and Salt Lake City.
From there, we narrowed in on two concepts- an incentive program and a code challenge. We dissected each and wrote down all that would be required to successfully execute them. This exercise revealed the code challenge concept to be more dynamic and allow for more targeting of drawing specifically tech talent to MSP.
Wireframes & Storyboards
The big idea: "Tech Tales"- a code challenge video series that features the stories of transplant tech professionals from Make It. MSP.'s target non-Midwest markets.
Through low fidelity wireframes, timelines, and storyboards, "Tech Tales" began to emerge. In this brainstorming process we identified four buckets of detail that needed to be unpacked- storytelling, competition, viewer engagement, and advertising/branding.
I was specifically responsible for fleshing out the storytelling component of our idea. How were we going to address target messages? Who would be featured in the show?
First, I created some potential characters, persona style. This gave me a chance to get to know the "techies" that might be featured in Tech Tales. "Knowing" these individuals gave me direction and a filter to run our ideas through.
Keeping the target messages central to Tech Tales, I drew up some examples of how messages might be addressed through storytelling. By prioritizing the top performing messages on facebook, we can hopefully connect to Make It. MSP.'s target users.
In an effort to establish the episodic flow of Tech Tales, I drew up this storyboard. Stories of the techies would be told in an authentic way that addresses messaging and connects with audiences through personal stories.
Critique & Come to Jesus
At this point, our team brought the individual pieces together to create a cohesive whole. It is worth mentioning here that we were not sold on this idea we had concocted. This insecurity took a toll on our ability to cooperate and communicate as a group. We felt stuck. We were onto something... but we hadn't yet found it. I felt concerned that the code challenge lacked substance. Others were concerned about feasibility, timeline, viewer participation and MVO.
So we decided to critique with an outsider. We taped our first draft presentation to a whiteboard and presented to Joe Williams, a seasoned UX professional, for feedback. Joe immediately tapped into what we were trying to communicate with a slogan he offered up, "You Are Here". He explained that he did not see the code challenge as the cornerstone of the presentation. We didn't need to create a code challenge, we needed to tell as story.
We had built this intricate system of prototypes that laid out a very complicated, huge idea. But at the core of our efforts we were trying to tell stories. We wanted to leverage what we already have, the stories of those that have moved here and are loving it. Our hope was that the Clara in DC would see herself in the Clara in MSP. We wanted to tell Clara that there were opportunities for her to thrive in MSP, and people like her were already here. You Are. Here.
Presentation & Proposal
In an effort to divvy up work and make sure nothing was forgotten, I sketched up a quick storyboard of what our presentation would need to include. Our group split up these areas and got to work. I drew up the model below and started refining my prototypes to reflect our new focus.
On the tight timeline we gathered our rapid prototypes into a complete presentation and pitched the idea to Dan Linstroff, the Tech Team Coordinator at Make It. MSP.
Dan gave us some very helpful feedback after our presentation. He was excited about the feasibility of the idea and appreciated the low barriers to getting started.
"You've given us something we can start on tomorrow. and you've shown us how to prioritize what stories to tell."
Dan also asked some important questions. He wondered what would incentivize individuals to participate in the video series? How would Make It. MSP. find these techies? I refined my presentation to address Dan's important questions and sent the final copy to him to pitch to his greater team.