A design process for mapping potential touchpoints

The group brainstorming process borrows the best from the various design processes that the students have learned from their professors' over the two years. The end result of the workshop is a visualization of the client’s ecosystem and surrounding communities. It is meant to be used as a narrative generator that maps out potential possibilities for community connection; which they called Story Maker.

 The class partnered with Matt Stinchcomb of Etsy as a client; whose brief was to a create a concept that will engage the hearts and minds of Etsy employees in order to meet their sustainability goals. The end result of the class was to come up with a pilot to test at Etsy and a strategy that will easily be integrated into Etsy’s culture.

Lance Green, Andres Iglesias, Julia Plevin and Brandon Washington quickly focused on connecting with Etsy’s surrounding community. After a visit to the Etsy headquarters, the group noticed that there were plenty of opportunities to support
local businesses around the area. The initial ideas evolved around creating a stronger bond with those businesses. After further research we realized that there is a surrounding community made up of public schools and public housing that Dumbo’s business district were geographically close to but totally disconnected.

Etsy offers 40 paid hours to their employees so the students wanted to make it easy for Etsy employees to utilize these hours by dedicating them to helping the surrounding community. We started to understand the current landscape through
stakeholder interviews with Etsy employees heading some of the volunteering initiative and a survey to figure out if employees are using their hours, how are they using their hours, and what they are willing to use their hours for. We received over
one hundred responses. The most surprising response was that 80% of Etsy admin use 0 to 10 of their hours and 8% did not know that received paid hours. So the problem isn’t what Etsy is doing with volunteering, the problem is getting the employees to volunteer.

In our initial iterations we hoped to inspire Etsy employees to volunteer their time through workshops, lesson plans, and internship programs that would benefit and influence the students of the local school. 


Once we spoke to Katie Hunt-Morr, Senior Manager, Values and Impact at Etsy, we discovered that we were too zoomed in and needed to look at the bigger picture. 

We are stepping away from the idea of volunteerism on the whole as it creates separation barriers between the group who is volunteering and the group receiving the volunteer efforts. I’m interested in understanding community integration- how we as a company can create connection points between our staff, our sellers, local businesses around our offices, non-profits operating in the area, and local governments. 


So we pivoted to the idea of identifying connection points between Etsy and its surrounding community. To do this we proposed a workshop with office managers, who are the cultural mavens at Etsy. We created a technique that would work both online and offline and held a workshop at Etsy in Brooklyn with online attendees from offices around the globe. This process can be repeated and shared with Etsy admin around the world.

Through Story Maker we were able to visualize multiple stakeholders, technologies, barriers, and interests with the office managers at Etsy. The workshop helped them realize the many different touch-points around their local community and use them to plan out new ways to give back to the community and use their 40 hours.