Design Thinking behind some of York’s most innovative projects

The concept looks at what people need most and tailors everything from business offerings to how organizations are run, using repeated feedback.

Story paid for by: Design Quake
Written by: Anthony Machcinski
Erin and Ben McGlaughlin started York-based Design Quake in 2016, looking to help businesses grow using a new way of thinking. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

A new ideology is influencing some of York’s most well-known institutions, from the York Revolution to the Cultural Alliance.

It’s called Design Thinking, and York-based Design Quake has been helping organizations create meaningful change using the pillars of the business philosophy since 2016.

“Design Thinking focuses on identifying and then solving the customer’s problems first,” says Erin McGlaughlin, who owns the company with her husband Ben. “The components of Design Thinking are easy to understand, but applying them well can be challenging.”

Design Quake helps organizations develop new products and services, support organizational development and manage transformational change.

Erin McGlaughlin first learned the pillars of Design Thinking while studying business at Stanford. She and Ben now use that to help businesses grow in York County. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Re-inventing the Revs experience

When the York Revolution opened its ballpark in 2007, they built a picnic space beyond the right field wall. Eight years later, the novelty of the concept ran out, says Revs president Eric Menzer.

The team hired “Design Thinking evangelist” Erin to reinvent the customer experience.

They started using Design Thinking by interviewing customers to identify what was most important to them. The interviews yielded distinct trends, including wanting separate spaces for groups to offering entertainment independent of the baseball game.

The Revolution built prototypes based on those answers, and customers evaluated the models. The team took those evaluations and kept refining the models until they perfected the project.

York Revolution president Eric Menzer, right, guides Erin McGlaughlin of Design Quake through the 1741 Club, a new experience at PeoplesBank Park developed using Design Thinking. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

“It was really valuable and created a much better end result,” Eric says. “We wouldn’t have gotten the feedback we did from our customers if we didn’t physically walk them through the prototype.”

They found the result so beneficial that when the team sought to renovate a large club space behind home plate, they again hired Design Quake to implement the Design Thinking philosophy.

That yielded the 1741 Club, a new skybox level experience with high end food and drinks and opportunities for single-game visits.

“It’s very gratifying to see when we sit across the table, hear from customers that they like what they see and they buy in,” Eric says. “It’s a huge validation of taking the time to do all the work.”

The Revolution have now used Design Quake for two projects in the ballpark. "“It was really valuable and created a much better end result,” says team president Eric Menzer. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Helping K2 Kinetics grow

More than a year ago, K2 Kinetics in Springettsbury Township ran into a good challenge.

The automation company that designs food and beverage packaging lines was growing. But as CEO Kevin Keller’s sales trips across the country grew, it left him without support at headquarters.

Without a defined structure, he feared the growth of his company could be stunted.

He needed help navigating how to shift his company’s internal culture from a small start-up to a more mature organization including setting strategic priorities, creating internal alignment and maintaining clear communication with his staff.

Ben McGlaughlin works with Kevin Keller, CEO of K2 Kinetics, to help create an organizational structure as the company continues to grow. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

They brought in Design Quake to help find a solution.

Using the elements of Design Thinking, they conducted empathy interviews with current employees to understand the company’s needs.

K2 Kinetics is working on the next step: implementing Design Quake’s recommended action plan and building a stronger team. Ben has stepped in to provide hands-on support as the company’s interim CFO and COO.

“There’s a trust factor with Design Quake,” Kevin says. “They’re helping us as we keep growing to not miss the mark.”

K2 Kinetics hired Ben McGlaughlin of Design Quake to step in as the company's interim CFO and COO as the company grows larger (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

Rebuilding the Cultural Alliance

Since the Cultural Alliance of York County’s inception in 1998, the organization maintained the same strategic objective and operating model, but 20 years later, as larger company donors left town or died, the Cultural Alliance needed an overhaul.

With new president Kelley Gibson on board, the Cultural Alliance began a top to bottom remodeling of the organization with help from Design Quake.

“The first step was to create a blank slate,” Erin says. “We took a look around and said, ‘What do these arts organizations need and what does our community want as a whole?’”

They started with empathy interviews with everyone from artists to donors. Instead of just trying to solve what they thought were problems, they asked questions like, “What keeps you up at night?” and used those answers to find trends that diagnose the actual problems.

Design Quake works side-by-side with the Cultural Alliance of York County as the organization begins a top-to-bottom overhaul. Erin McGlaughlin and Cultural Alliance president Kelley Gibson are starting with a blank slate to best serve the organizations Cultural Alliance sponsors. (Photo by Caleb Robertson for Our York Media)

They discovered people wanted the Alliance to sponsor more organizations and singular artists and to help cover the operational costs of those they sponsor.

“Project funding is easier, but it doesn’t pay to keep the lights on or fix the roof,” Kelley explains.

Interview results led the group to create three mock websites, showcasing business and donor model prototypes that were evaluated again by interviewees.

The organization has gathered information for two years and is now in an implementation phase. With Design Quake’s help, the Cultural Alliance is developing new processes based on those responses in 2019 with anticipation to unveil a new structure in 2020.

“Design Thinking helps you understand what the actual problems are,” Kelley says. “You have to be strong and patient enough for the process to go through. You’re going to hear things you don’t want to hear, but it needs to be done to create something that helps everyone.”

Story paid for by Design Quake
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