Can Design-Thinking Solve Recruitment Problems? Q&A With Kelly Ann McKercher of Optimal Experience

What can recruiters learn from designers?

One of the focus at RHUBNZ this year is to highlight the different ways recruiters can learn from other industries and develop a fresh outlook. Enter ‘Design-thinking’ a different way of looking at how business problems can be solved. We caught up with Kelly Ann McKercher of Optimal Experience to find out more about design-thinking and how it can be applied to recruitment.

Q. What is human-centred design and why does it matter?
Human-centred design is a process in which the needs, wants, expectations and limitations of end users of a product, service or process are given extensive attention throughout the design process. We didn’t make it up, human-centred design is a professional discipline with a focus on understanding how people and products/services/processes interact. We define the design process as having several distinct stages; research, co-creation, testing and implementation. Nothing is created without first testing it with representative users.

Why does it matter? Organisations can no longer compete on technology, brand, price, services or products. Instead, they must compete on experience.  A deep understanding of users, their tasks and the environment they exist in enables us to craft solutions that really work for them, ensuring experiences are useful, usable and satisfying. This in turn creates a climate for customer preference, loyalty and advocacy.

People love telling their stories and are empowered when they have a hand in creating something they will use in their personal or professional lives.  Still puzzled? Check out

Q. Can you shed lights on your clients/projects you are doing. What problems are you currently solving with human centered design?
In recent months I’ve helped:
–        A major insurer understand the end-to-end experience their customers have in buying their products. Also, the experience had by their staff in delivering the service in order to identify and address pain points for both parties.
–        A tertiary institute to solve students problems in accessing student services through researching, designing and testing a responsive self-service portal.
–        A government organisation understand the wants, needs and habits of their employees in order to design a tool to support them to carry out their work in efficient, cohesive and delightful way (which they were previously unable to do).

Q. Can the human-centred design framework be universally applied in solving problems across different industries  including recruitment?
At it’s core, human-centred design is about better understanding peoples’ needs and designing solutions that meet those needs. It can be applied to solving many human problems across industries – from the creation of policy, addressing social challenges, the creation or transformation of a public or private service or the ongoing improvement of processes within an organisation.

It’s a great approach for solving big, wicked problems that need many minds.

Q. Can you tell us a bit about yourself. How did you end up with your current role?
I’m both a designer and social anthropolgist, a purpose-fit background for the kind of research and design work we do at Optimal Experience. I joined the team three years ago after attending a presentation on the work Optimal Experience had done in researching and testing the design of the Air New Zealand Skycouch.

I’m passionate about spreading the message of human-centred design across public and private sectors, with a particular emphasis on the application of human-centred design for addressing social challenges.

Outside of my work at Optimal I run a monthly forum for woman interested in, or practicing human-centred design, mentor start-ups in the social good space, as well as speaking about and teaching human-centered design to students and professionals.

Q. What will you be speaking at RHUBNZ
Suzanne and I will be delivering an interactive workshop where participants will learn practical skills to enable them to use the human-centered design process in solving problems they encounter.  Participants will learn about; conducting user research, ideating solutions based on user needs, testing ideas with users and iterating ideas based on users feedback.

Kelly Ann McKercher & Suzanne Cross will conduct a workshop on design-thinking on day one of RHUBNZ