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Reach NC Voices team shoots for the moon with first design sprint

A team from EducationNC brainstormed and prototyped during a five-day intensive sprint last week on the Reach NC Voices initiative, a 21st century town hall engagement platform. The sprint was structured from a process created by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures (now called GV).

 The team met with experts and drafted product concepts. The week ended with user testing of the prototype. 

Here are thoughts of some of the participants in the process:

Nation Hahn

Chief Growth Officer for EducationNC

“What’s really encouraging is that a lot of the big ideas we’ve had for Reach we saw glimmers of hope [in testing] that people are actually going to react well to this. And some of our biggest obstacles, we already have answers for bubbling in our heads.”

Prototypes were built from a condensed version of an extensive flowchart — with a special emphasis on fun. Joe Schram for Education NC

Jay Dawkins

Founder and CEO at Cityzen

“The high was then seeing how invested everyone was in making it work and building something that was actually super close…to what we wanted to achieve.”

Joe Schram

Product Strategist 

“I love hearing what people say. I’ve been working solo for the past year, so I’ve really liked getting a week with a room of other smart people that I could enjoy working with…an oasis in a desert.”

Caroline Parker

User Experience Designer and Reporter for EducationNC

“I always hate brainstorming sessions because I feel like nothing ever comes of them, but this is like…in a game show when it’s like ‘Lightning Round’…I actually enjoyed it because you get to a product. Things get done.”

Lindsay and Nation get excited about prototype sketches. Nation Hahn/EducationNC

Nancy Rose

Chief Operating Officer at EducationNC

“Condensing the process of identifying a project goal to the completion of a prototype really intensified the energy and creativity in the room during the week. I was especially excited to see how diverse the group of test users were and can’t wait to see how their reactions will improve our next iteration of Reach NC Voices.”

Andrew Haeg

Founder and CEO at Groundsource

“The most exciting thing was to be part of a really smart and open-minded group of people asking fundamental questions about how to put relationships at the heart of public service journalism. It’s a tough challenge, and if we can solve it — even partially — I think it’s a model than could spread.”

Lindsay Carbonell

Web Developer/Designer and Reporter at EducationNC

“This process really helped me get a good structure for how I’m going to do user research in the future. I’m super excited about putting together personas based on what we got this week.”

A rainbow reflects on a box full of ideas and sketches from the sprint. Lindsay Carbonell/EducationNC

Reagan Cline

Student at UNC’s School of Information and Library Science (SILS)

“I found the condensed timeframe exciting. With only a week to go from ideation to testing, we had to make tough decisions rapidly, and I think that kept us from falling into the ‘pit of despair’ for too long.”

Mike Bloise

Software Engineer at Cityzen

“It was great to see results without having to code something.”

Bryan Noreen

Director of Data Science and Engagement for EducationNC and Cityzen

“The most exciting part for me was the ability to step out of our daily routines and take time to really dig into innovative ideas. Reach has been successful so far because we do things differently. This week allowed us to work to continue that and discover our next big thing.”

Lindsay Carbonell removes the last sticky note from the design sprint room. Reagan Cline/UNC-Chapel Hill
Lindsay Carbonell

Lindsay Carbonell is a web developer and reporter. She attended West Cary Middle School and Panther Creek High School. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill where she studied interactive multimedia at the School of Media and Journalism. She is passionate about compelling stories, clean design, and cleaner code. In her free time she writes memoirs, collects stickers, and watches Steven Universe.