Purpose/Objective       ADORNit    is a manufacturer of paper crafts, wood décor, and quilting fabric as well as a distributor of unique boutique style items. This design company was founded in 2009 and experienced rapid growth, accompanied with growing pains. The owners wanted a consultation on how to resolve interpersonal conflict. Their goal was to increase employee satisfaction and improve interpersonal communication; they especially wanted to resolve the discord among their employees and managers.    My work for ADORNit was an opportunity to participate in real-world consulting for a local company.   I collaborated with a small team of six students who volunteered to tackle this project.   Our purpose was to provide conflict-resolution consultation to the company and all 17 of its employees. Due to the confidentiality of the work, I am not able to provide details but have provided highlights.      Process      Research and Preparation     My team and I spent a month researching the theories and principles of conflict communication, a branch of study in the communications field. This research provided the foundation and understanding necessary to consult ADORNit.    My team and I had several discussions with the business owners, trying to ascertain the communication issues ADORNit faced. I, along with one other teammate, crafted the employee interview questions based upon our understanding of those issues. We designed the questions to elicit honest, clear, and valuable feedback from the interviewees. The questions were designed to be open-ended so that individuals could answer in the way that felt comfortable to them. To provide consistency across interviews, we asked the same exact questions to each participant; this helped eliminate bias and inconsistency. We designed the last question to allow interviewees to talk about any hesitations or thoughts they may have had.          Interviews     Our team conducted 17 interviews. Each of the 17 employees were interviewed individually and away from their work place. I conducted 7 interviews. The purpose of the interviews was to help us understand the difficulties each person faced and obtain their perspectives about what was and was not working within the company.           Analysis and Review     After transcribing the interviews and codifying them, we found six clear themes interwoven throughout the managers’ and employees’ comments. These themes provided a focused direction for our continued research and analysis of the situation during the review process.     Each team member conducted research to better understand how communication principles could address the themes identified from the interviews. In my research, I discussed the themes with professors and experts in the conflict communication field and studied current research. Uncovering the pertinent communication principles took hours and consistent iterations.    After assimilating data and personal research, each team member presented their findings to the team. We critiqued and refined the findings in preparation for the final consultation.          Designing Curriculum and the final consultation     After ascertaining ADORNit’s communication needs, we began our comprehensive creative process. We designed an engaging presentation of our findings and solutions. Our curriculum provided insight to our clients and outlined actions that they could begin immediately.    Our team sought to make the research clean, simple, and engaging for all participants. We designed curriculum to assist our clients in understanding the research, the communication principles, and the actions they could take. The components included the following:     ·               Personalized book.    Our team designed and printed a book that boiled down our findings and recommendations into simple points. The book design incorporated styling elements similar to styles used by the company so that it would feel familiar and welcoming to them.      ·               Interactive quizzes, games, and learning modules.    While we designed the learning modules as a team, I designed the quizzes and games myself, providing them in both hardcopy and digital formats. They were constructed to engage our clients and teach them communication principles that would enable them to resolve their conflicts and move forward with improved skills. These games were personalized, featuring conflict scenarios commonly encountered among the people in ADORNit.      ·               Visuals.    I also designed a  Prezi presentation , which we used as the roadmap for the presentation  and subsequent discussion with ADORNit employees. You can view it  HERE   . To help us teach communication principles and illustrate our points, our team used object lessons.    As we developed the curriculum, we sought out reviews and critiques from professors and communication experts on our work. Their feedback led to many iterations of the curriculum and presentation content. This back-and-forth evaluation was among the most valuable portions of the project. Incorporating the feedback allowed us to clarify and refine our thoughts, improve the content, and clarify the message for our clients, making the solutions relevant and immediately applicable with actionable items.    After two months of preparation, we presented the curriculum and our findings to the entire company—owners, management, and staff. Our presentation included ample time for questions and discussion. The proposal was well received by ADORNit, and they began making goals for improvement, which led to the changes they had sought.          Final Thoughts     My consulting opportunity taught me the importance of thought design when consulting individuals or companies on intangibles such as interpersonal conflict communication. I experienced how the design of thought, the way of expressing and sharing your knowledge with others, is just as important as the design of objects or things.     The creativity needed to take a typically dull research report and develop it into an entertaining game was the most exciting part of the project, because it facilitated a higher level of engagement and learning.     This was one of the most fulfilling projects I have ever participated in because I helped ADORNit improve the design and interaction of their teams by using communication principles and engaging technologies. 
prev / next