The final outcome was a 20+ page document of research and recommendations. In follow-up conversations with the Parking Services Director Jeff Petry, he told me the work we did together was beneficial in the following ways:
"The immediate impact was restructuring my thinking for the program and work done. The project aligned with rewriting job description, focusing training, and influencing candidates for open positions ... Your work is ingrained in my thinking for the program, especially around the state park rangers. A highly trained, professional, and customer oriented workforce that works remotely and not armed, seeking compliance through body language and words. It drives all my thinking for the project."
After a few years had passed, I checked in and asked if there had been a long-term impact as a result of the project:
"Yes, a total modernizing about what a parking officer is and can be. Eugene is on the cutting edge of community focused municipal parking service. We definitely do it differently here. Further, we went down a path of creating a “Neighborhood Services Officer” position that is similar to the [National] parks ambassador work but operates in the right of way. The NSO position would work with vehicles and camping on sidewalks and the right of way through conversation to get compliance, without law enforcement. We were not able to come to agreement with union representatives to make the project work and is currently on hold."
This is the nature of design-thinking and wicked problems. The number of stakeholders can make solutions difficult to roll out. Sometimes the impact is to provide a way to dialogue around present issues and provide new ways for those connected to think about change going forward. Even union reps.
In the end I would have liked to do more field studies or test experiences with customers. I did work with another city employee to send out customer email surveys. It was written and approved by the Parking Service director, but it became bogged down in red tape by other stakeholders. As a minor pivot, I did casual interviews with friends and colleagues who also worked downtown, regarding their experiences with parking services, and their knowledge and expectations of what the department was trying to do. This did help in validating basic assumptions I was making early on, but deeper research with customers could have turned up some innovative approaches.
It's all a part of learnin'
The results, follow-up, and long-term impact.