What got the attention of Tom McGann, director of Parking Services at CU Boulder, was the word “human.”
“Since everything we do in Parking Services impacts humans,” McGann said, “using something called human-centered design to help identify the next parking system for campus seemed like a no-brainer.”
For years, McGann said, Parking Services staff have worked to identify ways to enable 21st-century parking options for campus staff, faculty, students and visitors. This has become especially true as hybrid work options continue to flourish on campus.
“My staff and I meet with folks across campus regularly, and it’s clear to us that having flexible and versatile parking and transportation offerings would be hugely beneficial,” he said.
So when Kristen Alipit, director of organizational effectiveness and engagement in Finance and Business Strategy launched the third year of Innovation Buffs featuring human-centered design, McGann jumped in. Working with his team, he arranged to have Alipit offer a human-centered design workshop to his whole staff.
According to Alipit, the goal of human-centered design is to understand the people impacted by a problem and design solutions that work for them. The first stage of the process includes identifying problems, empathizing with stakeholders using observation and asking well-developed questions directly. This allows surprising and potentially unexpected solutions to arise.
“When we put the people we’re trying to serve at the center, we’re much more likely to develop a solution that will not only work for them, but delight them,” Alipit said.
McGann sees multiple benefits to bringing human-centered design to Parking Services.
“By opening this up to the whole staff, we’re making it clear that everyone has something valuable to contribute. Everyone is encouraged to try new things, to feel challenged and maybe even make some mistakes along the way,” McGann said. “Ultimately, this doesn’t end with just a new parking system. We’re improving processes and building a community that can create positive change for CU Boulder and its people.”