Ignite by Adecco / 2015

A better experience for IBM alumni

A wall of sticky notes.

IBM was missing an opportunity to engage in a meaningful way with its vast alumni network. They wanted to create a community that would help alumni stay connected, find future jobs, and learn from each other.


In this exploratory project, we prototyped and tested four concepts. Of these, two were deemed viable and were presented to IBM leadership for possible inclusion in the company's 2016 initiatives.

My Role

Strategy, Design Facilitation, UX Design, Visual Design, User Research, Project Management

The goal of this discovery project was to research the sentiment and needs of the current IBM alumni population and generate possible initiatives, products and/or services that would help IBM better connect with current and future alumni and build a lasting community.

This project was completed at Ignite in partnership with our sister company, Lee Hecht Harrison.

Gauging alumni sentiment

We analyzed IBM’s Glassdoor and LinkedIn statistics and interactions, reviewed and classified results from Lee Hecht Harrison’s alumni sentiment survey, and conducted many in-depth alumni interviews via video chat. From this research we identified three personas and their general needs, desires, and feelings towards IBM.

Several sticky notes grouped by categories for a millenial persona.
Post-its for days. Each group mapped a different persona journey from separation from the company to finding a new opportunity. We then identified pain points and opportunities to connect and provide value.

Diverge, converge, repeat

I facilitated two ideation sessions during the 12-week project. The first session was conducted with several members of the Ignite team. The second ideation was held in New York City with members of IBM, Lee Hecht Harrison, and the Ignite project team. From these design-thinking workshops, we generated 127 ideas that centered around the themes of communication, connection, and knowledge sharing.

Frustration and laughter. One of the biggest challenges of the project was getting IBM and Lee Hecht Harrison leadership to think in new ways about alumni and their challenges. I used several empathy-building, design-thinking techniques to get them to open up.
A group of IBM and Lee Hecht Harrison employees laugh as they take a break from the ideation session.

Testing digital solutions

Based on our research and ideation process, we made recommendations for ways in which IBM and Lee Hecht Harrison could use their strengths to implement and test various initiatives. At Ignite, we chose to explore the possibility of a digital solution that would focus on communication, connection, and/or knowledge sharing.

With the help of several Igniters, we put the ideas through an initial vetting process, fleshing out many of the ideas with sketches and listing assumptions and possible tests. After deciding on the final four ideas, we used 2-3 week sprints to prototype and test them.

2 sheets of paper with sketches on them.
Mind maps and crazy eights. Just two of the many exercises used for ideation.

Idea 1: an interactive timeline

In the spirit of the popular StoryCorps project — “an American non-profit organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans” — we explored the possibility of developing a tool that would facilitate sharing the history of IBM through its people. This multimedia platform would provide a collective representation of IBM made up of imagery and information about previous projects and the people who worked on them.

The visual timeline would show stories in a beautiful, interactive matrix. For each project, alumni could add stories and tag fellow collaborators.
A comp of a project page in the interactive timeline.
A comp of the story detail page.
A story detail page. Users would have the ability to like, comment, and share.

Idea 2: A mentoring forum

Another product idea that we explored was a discussion group for alumni focused on sharing expertise and advice on professional issues. We built a static prototype for 1-on-1 user testing. We also created a Google Group discussion to test actual user interactions.

The main discussions page. Users could search or browse topic categories. The prototype also included a chat function for private discussions.
A comp of the main discussions page. It shows a list of all the discussions and some preliminary data.
A comp of the ask a question modal.
Ask a question. Users would have the ability to post a question or start a discussion thread.
An example discussion detail page. Users would have the ability to comment and like.
A comp of the discussion detail page showing multiple layers of comments and responses.

Our research and experiements for this project showed that there was a real opportunity for IBM to engage alumni. We gave them our final recommendations for moving forward which will be presented to IBM leadership for possible inclusion in their 2016 initiatives.

Thank Yous

Sean Paley Strategy & Product Management

Eleanor Vajzovic Strategy & Project Management

Sunny Gettinger Strategy, Research, Copywriting, & User Testing

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