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The Intervention Cycle

In this link you will find the description of the intervention cycle and its 6 stages.


1- Problem Identification

In the Problem Identification stage, you identify the problem as it is perceived by the target stakeholder. How does he/she perceive the problem and why? This identification includes identifying the target stakeholders’ perceived opportunities, but also the challenges and dilemmas he/she is facing.

Assignment:

The partial report (approximately 500 words) should include:

  • A description of the problem as it is perceived by the target stakeholder, including the relevant history and background, the target stakeholders’ perceived opportunities, challenges and dilemma’s;
  • A log showing which team member did what.

To be successful you should identify relevant (academic) literature and you should use relevant tools and a functional visualization. Relevant tools in this stage could be the five why’s analysis, PESTEL analysis, macro meso micro analysis, Power/Interest Grid for Stakeholder Prioritization and brainstorming. You are free to use any other relevant tool.

Please note that the justification of the choices made, methodological approach, including methods used, research done and group activities are crucial.

2- Problem Analysis

In the Problem Analysis, you have to delve deeper and broader into the target stakeholders’ initial perspective. With deeper we mean that you should build up more understanding and more relevant background. This includes the identification and use of relevant scientific literature. With broader we mean that the analysis should go beyond the perception of the target stakeholder. The aim should be to identify all stakeholders, and to analyse their perspectives, values and interests, independent of the perspective of the target stakeholder. A stakeholder is any individual or group who has an interest (a “stake”) in the problem, either as an actor (an “active stakeholder”) or as someone who’s values and interests will or may be affected (a “passive stakeholder”).

There are several tools and methods available that can help you to look broader and deeper than the target stakeholders’ initial perspective. In this stage a stakeholder analysis is required.

The first stage of the stakeholder analysis is to identify your stakeholders. Think of all the people who are affected by your subject, who have influence of power over it? Or have an interest in its successful or unsuccessful conclusion? And, how do they perceive the problem? Useful tools here are brainstorming or brain writing.

The second step is to classify the stakeholders. Some of the stakeholders may have the power either to block or advance. Some may be interested in what you are doing, others may not care. The interested stakeholders may support your position, oppose it, or be neutral. Map out your stakeholders and classify them by their power over your case and by their interest in your work. This power may be related to the solution for your problem (e.g. knowledge), to the process of developing this solution (e.g. authorities in the field), or the market acceptance of this solution.

The final stage of your stakeholder analysis is to get an understanding of what motivates the stakeholders and how you need to win them around. You can summarize the understanding you have gained about the stakeholders, so that you can easily see what you have to keep in mind while working on your case. After all, your innovation to solve the problem has to be a responsible one. Which means that ideally every stakeholder should be satisfied with your solution, or at least not harmed by it.

An essential element in this phase is to have real-life observations and interviews with core stakeholders.

NB:An innovation can be called responsible if all (active and passive) stakeholders benefit from it, or if at least none of them feels negatively affected by it in one or another way.

Assignment:

The partial report (approximately 2000 words) should include:

  • A complete list of (active and passive) stakeholders of the innovation that you have taken as your topic.
  • A description of the values and interests of these stakeholders and a description of how these values and interests will or may be affected by the innovation.
  • An analysis of the stakeholders in terms of not merely their interests but also their power to influence the innovation.
  • An account of the scientific literature that you have identified and explored in order to deepen and broaden your understanding of the problem(s) that are associated with the innovation. What are the insights that you take away from that literature?
  • A log showing which team member did what.

Additionally you deliver a summary of each interview.

To be successful you should use relevant (academic) literature, tools and a functional visualization. Relevant tools in this stage could be SWOT analysis, Mendelow Power/Interest Matrix, Fishbone diagram and cause-and-effect tree. You are free to use any other relevant tool.

Please note that the justification of the choices made, methodological approach, including methods used, research done and group activities are crucial.

 

3- Problem Definition

The Problem Definition contains a description and a demarcation of the problem that you will try to solve in the later stages of the intervention cycle or the opportunities you see. The problem definition is informed by the results of the previous stages. A problem exists if there exists a state of affairs (or a trend, development, proposal, initiative) and (1) some of the stakeholders are dissatisfied with it or perhaps should be, and (2) there are reasons to believe that things can be improved. As a consequence of the work you did in the Problem Analysis stage, the problem definition will normally be both broader and deeper than the problem as it was identified in the Problem Identification stage.

A problem is not a given, but exists only in virtue of a choice made in the face of a ‘problem mess’. In the Problem Definition stage you will have to take decisions regarding what you are going to focus on in the next stages and why. The problem definition is therefore a crucial part of the project and should be developed carefully. An important aspect of the problem definition is that it also provides a justification of the choices you make in this stage. Why focus on this particular (aspect of the) problem and not another one?

When you made a choice and justify it, you lay down the result in the problem definition. In general, a problem definition is a concise description of the issues that need to be addressed and why. A good problem definition should:

  1. Define the problem in terms of needs, and not solutions. If the problem is defined in terms of possible solutions, you’re closing the door to other, possibly more effective solutions.
  2. Define the problem as one everyone shares; avoid assigning blame for the problem. This is particularly important if different people (or groups) with a history of bad relations need to be working together to solve the problem. You may relate the problem to one ‘problem owner’ (the target stakeholder in your case) but in any event you should also address other (active and passive) stakeholders, their values and interests, and how these may be affected. Remember that your goal is not just innovation but responsible

You should carefully define the key terms that occur in your problem definition.

An indispensable element of the problem definition is a formulation of the (re)design requirements. The design requirements apply to your specific problem definition and the product, service or system that you are designing. Your requirements will be more specific and directly related to meeting the needs of the stakeholders. You can think of functional requirements, user requirements, boundary conditions and design restrictions (see page 125; van Aaken, Berends and van der Bij). Make them as SMART and measurable as possible. Remember that without measurable design requirements, an evaluation of the success of the implemented design will be impossible.


Assignment:

The partial report (approximately 1000 words) that contains your problem definition should include:

  • An overview (list) of all the actual and potential problems you identified in the preceding stages;
  • A statement and demarcation of the problem (including an explanation of the key terms of the problem statement) that you will try to solve in the next steps;
  • A justification of the chosen problem and how it is demarcated; Here and elsewhere in the problem definition, you must use relevant scientific literature that you have identified in the previous and the present stage;
  • A list of (re)Design Requirements (including justification of the chosen requirements). NB. Not merely the intended outcomes must be specified (quantified if possible) but also unwanted but possible side-effects must be identified; also here, goals (quantified if possible) must be set.
  • A log showing which team member did what.

To be successful you should use relevant (academic) literature, tools and a functional visualization. Relevant tools in this stage could be Means-End Diagram, Ofman Core Qualities … You are free to use any other relevant tool.

Please note that the justification of the choices made, methodological approach, including methods used, research done and group activities are crucial.

 

4- Solution (Re) Design

In the Solution (Re) Design stage you will design your solution to the problem that was defined in the preceding stage. The (re)design may refer to different types of entities, such as a physical product or service, but it could also be an organization procedure, a standard, a law or an agreement, or all combined.

The first step is generating ideas for possible solutions. There are various tools and literature available that address the creative processes that are needed throughout this step. The solution-ideas that you generate may only address certain aspects of the problem. Therefore, you should group your solution ideas according to the parts/aspects of the problem that they would solve, so that a clear overview results.

As many possible solutions have been crossing the venue, you need to decide which solutions will fit your chosen problem definition and design requirements best. A multi criteria analysis (MCA) is a relevant tool to evaluate and rank your solution ideas. If you have several ideas per problem-aspect, then you might (also) use MCA to rank the ideas and select the best one. You should select a (set) of solution ideas for the next stage of the intervention cycle on the basis of the rankings. Important is that you justify the choices made. 

You should clearly specify how the selected solution-ideas will realise the design requirements. If necessary, you should further detail the solution-ideas to make sure that, if implemented, they will indeed realise the requirements.

Assignment:

The partial report (approximately 2000 words) should include:

  • An overview of the possible solutions ideas that you have generated, categorized by parts/aspects of the problem;
  • An evaluation/ranking of the solution ideas using MCA;
  • A justification of the chosen (set of) solution idea(s) that will be implemented in the next stage of the Intervention Cycle;
  • A detailed specification of the selected solutions that demonstrates that and how the solutions will realise the design requirements.
  • A log showing which team member did what.

To be successful you should use relevant (academic) literature, tools and a functional visualization. Relevant tools in this stage can be brain writing, brain storming, multi criteria analysis and Cost-Benefit analysis. You are free to use any other relevant tool.

Please note that the justification of the choices made, methodological approach, including methods used, research done and group activities are crucial.

 

5- Solution Implementation

In the Solution Implementation stage, the selected design(s) should be implemented. Due to limited time, resources and also because of your limited power, it will sometimes not be possible to fully implement the solution. For instance, you do not have the means and power to introduce a new law or produce a new product. In such cases, rather than actually implementing the design(s), what you will do in this stage is to draw up a detailed plan that, if executed, would result into the actual implementation of the design(s).

 You describe in detail which steps must be taken by whom in order to implement your solution(s). This is called an implementation plan. By checking whether the steps can actually be executed, you perform a sort of feasibility study. By detailing the steps that are necessary (and feasible), you provide a kind of proof that your design is possible/feasible.

In writing the implementation plan, you must take recourse to scientific literature. The literature and feedback from stakeholders may help you to assess whether all the steps are feasible).While writing the implementation plan, you may have to consider different implementation options.

You also have to advise the target stakeholder and the other stakeholders how they should proceed with the implementation. This means that your implementation plan should not merely cover all steps that must be taken, but should also make clear who should take the steps, and give advice on how they could do that.

It is a possibility that you have to conclude that the implementation of your solution(s) is after all not possible, or that it is uncertain. When this is the case, you have to suggest alternative solutions, which means: going back to the (Re)design stage, or perhaps even to an earlier stage of the intervention cycle.

Assignment:

The partial report (approximately 2000 words) should include:

  • A detailed implementation plan covering the different aspects of your solution (re)design;
  • A brief description and justification of alternative solutions if the current stage has revealed that the implementation of your selected (re)design(s) is not feasible;
  • A detailed description of the implementation, if any;
  • A log showing which team member did what.

To be successful you should use relevant (academic) literature, tools and a functional visualization. Relevant tools in this stage are cause-and-effect tree (p. 80) and implementation plan. You are free to use any other relevant tool.

Please note that the justification of the choices made, methodological approach, including methods used, research done and group activities are crucial.

 

6- Solution Evaluation

The final step of the intervention cycle is the Solution Evaluation. Evaluation refers to the careful observation and assessment of the process and the effects of your innovation. An evaluation should tell whether a project is successfully completed, whether improvements need to be implemented and what can be learnt for the future.

Your evaluation should address four objectives:

1. Evaluation to determine the results achieved and the improvements to be made

Here you should describe whether or not the implemented solution(s) meet the goals (e.g. design requirements) you stated earlier and whether unwanted effects have been avoided or limited or contained. Moreover, you should measure the stakeholders’ satisfaction with the implemented solution, and take this as a measure of the effectiveness of the responsibility and fit for use of the solution, for instance by interviewing them or by organising a focus group meeting. 

2. Evaluation oriented towards learning for future problems in the same context

What successful actions are to be retained and what actions should be avoided in the future? So, what can be learned for dealing with future problems in the same context? To reflect, you have to look at your own activities from a distance. Reflection is enhanced by creating an external point of reference that can be used as a mirror or as a stance form which to view oneself or one’s project. Your fellow SPGs will function as a mirror during the course.

3. Scientific reflection

In this section you have to answer several questions. What has the scientific literature contributed to your work? Was it hard to find relevant scientific literature? How did you deal with it? How can this literature be positioned in terms of scientific disciplines? How did you combine the different angles to come to your advice? You also have to think about the scientific work you missed regarding your topic. Here you also have to address this gap, if any.

4. Evaluation for personal and professional learning and development

Here you should describe what you as a group learned during the process. Moreover, you have to reflect critically on your functioning as a group. It will help identify strengths and weaknesses, uncover preferences for particular types of work and develop the ability to work with other people and manoeuvre in a social context. Did the variety of scientific backgrounds help or hinder?


Assignment:

The partial report (approximately 2000 words) should include:

  • A post-test evaluation, including a list with the stakeholders and their (reasons for) (dis)satisfaction with the solution had the implementation plan been actually executed; Again, scientific literature may help to assess whether certain stakeholders would or would not be satisfied with outcomes;
  • What has been learnt for future problems inthe same context?
  • Scientific reflection;
  • Critical reflection on personal and professional learning and development;
  • A log showing which team member did what.

To be successful you should use relevant (academic) literature, tools and a functional visualization. Relevant tools in this stage include multi criteria analysis.

You combine the partial reports to a final report, using the feedback received from your coach.