Participant Reflections on the Participatory Design Process

At the conclusion of both the initial design workshop (discussed in Chapter 6) and the design refinement workshop, attendees completed evaluation questionnaires to enable us to gain their perceptions of the process.

The questionnaires administered after the initial design workshop asked about a range of attributes of the design process, rated on a 5-point scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. Overall, participants rated the process as meeting the attributes of facilitating creativity, providing structure to the design process, enabling holistic thinking, efficiency, enabling integration into existing design processes, facilitating iteration of ideas and demonstrating validity (Read et al. 2016a).

In relation to the overall process, considering both the initial idea generation workshop and the design refinement workshop, participants were asked whether they felt STS values had been followed within the process. The ratings received were generally very positive:

  • • 90% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that people were treated as assets.
  • • 80% agreed or strongly agreed that the technology was used as a tool to assist humans.
  • • 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the workshops promoted attendees’ quality of life.
  • • 100% agreed or strongly agreed that individual differences were respected during the process.
  • • 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the workshops promoted consideration of responsibilities to all stakeholders.

In addition, both questionnaires asked open-ended questions about the positive and negative aspects of the process in which they had participated. The positive themes identified included the following:

  • • Collaboration (e.g. ‘Design was fun in group setting’, ‘Open discussion, all views considered and valued’)
  • • Creativity (e.g. ‘Looking at effective solutions and provide alternative solutions’, ‘The creative approach was refreshing’)
  • • Structure (e.g. ‘It was well structured and relevant’, ‘Well structured and facilitated, good tools and prompts, especially Design with Intent cards and assumption crushing’)

In terms of areas for improvement, the themes identified included the following:

• Limited time to achieve the workshop scope (e.g. ‘We covered a lot of different elements... Perhaps more time - however appreciating the limited time available - it appears that a lot of information was still produced for consideration’)

  • • A stronger focus on cost-effectiveness (e.g. ‘Consideration of cost-effectiveness to enable informed discussion with the budget holders and support business cases/investment proposals’, ‘Looking for low cost solutions to ensure that we comply with the law’)
  • • Ensuring the best mix of skills and expertise among workshop participants (e.g. ‘A planned process of workshops so they are spread out over time so that we can optimise the people who can attend’, ‘Pre-qualification of participants - ability to work in teams, relevant knowledge, diversity of skills’)

Together, these comments on the process suggest that the attendees appreciated the opportunity to work with other stakeholders in a collaborative manner and to think more creatively than they usually would in their everyday work. However, they wanted the process to be extended to incorporate cost-benefit considerations in more detail and suggested ways in which the process could be planned to ensure comprehensive consideration from those with different areas of expertise.

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