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Manager Growth

An set of tools to guide processes, increase communication, and align on strategic goals

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Marvegos Fine Art School


Role:  Chief Operations Officer

Design Challenge

How might we increase morale and provide resources to help studio managers be successful in managing studio, staff and clients?

Problem Identified

Studio managers were experiencing a high rate of burn out and turnover. Research helped to understand that this was largely due overwork, and lack of guidance and communication

Proposed Solution

A mobile app providing a set of tools to help studio managers guide their daily processes, align on goals, and increase communication with leadership.  




  • Stakeholder Interviews

  • Observational Analysis

  • System Mapping

  • Affinity Mapping

  • Insight Synthesis

  • Sensemaking



  • Co-Design Workshops

  • Feature Prioritization 

  • Brainstorming

  • LoFi Prototyping

  • Pilot Implementation

  • Evaluation

  • Iterations


User Research

  • Weekly interviews in one-on-one meetings with each of the four studio managers over the course of a month

  • Interviews with CEO, CFO, and CMO

  • 2 Manager Focus Groups

  • Observational Studies while sitting in on classes and studio processes

Research Synthesis



Key Insights

Unclear Expectations

  • Result in overwork, lack of success, and burnout

Excessive Oversight

  • Due to lack of clarity

  • Restricts autonomy and thus engagement

Unstructured Communication

  •  Leads to miscommunication and prohibits formation of habits

System Mapping


  • Identified current lines of communication and lack thereof​

  • Weaknesses:

    • Lack of lateral communication across studios​

    • Lack of communication channels between CFO, CMO and Studio Managers/Teachers

Communication Map


Co-design and Brainstorming

Key Ideas

  • Better messaging system

  • Achievement recognition system

  • Theoretical role model for ideal studio

  • Standardized processes

  • Shared process document repository

  • Peer mentorship

  • Manager Exchange program

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Evaluation metrics

Quantitative (time card)

  • Time spent on

    • Studio tasks​

    • Staff management

    • Student/Parent communication

  • Meetings kept

Qualitative (survey)

  • Goal clarity 

    • Compare leadership vs manager​ understanding

  • Manager Morale

  • Staff Morale


Prototypes & Iterations

Prototype 1 

Structured Meetings

Lo-fi, created in Google Sheets

Tested over course of 2 months

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  • Resources for reference

    • agenda by week/month

  • ​Discussion questions to structure meetings and encourage horizontal communication

  • Key Performance Indicators

    • Split into four modules​​​

  • Increased goal alignment

  • Managers reported feeling increased support, direction, and autonomy

  • CEO reported increased satisfaction with studio visits

  • Google Sheets format inaccessible in day to day

  • Responsibilities integrated into discussion and milestones are harder to find and use

  • Responsibilities not sorted by  time frame

Agenda, Discussion, Milestones

Prototype 2

Used both as printouts and hosted in internal staff portal.

Tested over course of 6 months

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New Features
  • Agenda

    • Studio, staff, student tasks​

    • Split by week, month, session, year

  • Discussion questions

    • For meetings with COO and managers

    • In thread with all managers​

  • Milestones

    • Recognize achievements​

    • Provide manager framework to better understand role and personal goals. 

  • Continued increase in goal alignment

  • Managers report 47% increase in morale

  • Staff report 13% increase in morale

  • Managerial task time decreased an average of 11 hours/month

  • Having to find in portal is more accessible than GSheets but still not immediately accessible

  • Printing requires ink, reverted to boring, non-colored versions

  • Should be living documents, no place for input or suggested revisions

  • Difficult to create personalized milestones 

Prototype 2

Agenda, Discussion, Milestones

An interactive mobile app that combines agenda, milestones, and weekly discussion questions

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New Features
  • Mobile app allows for access any time

  • Interactivity allows for 

    • Suggesting discussion questions, tasks

    • Personalized milestones

    • Checking items off agenda

  • Delay in production due to new priorities of COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Unfortunately, still unfinished by the time I left to pursue a design career

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