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Vestaboard: visible expressions of gratitude among leadership & co-workers

Combined with a mobile app or Slack, Vestaboard can serve as a dedicated and visible board for expressions of gratitude.

Photo of Dorrian Porter
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Typically a thank you is expressed directly person to person or among small teams.  If those expressions of gratitude could be seen more widely inside the workplace, it could provide meaningful inspiration to co-workers on which to act themselves, and foster a culture of gratitude within an organization. 

Combining expressions of thanks that already occur on workplace tools like Slack or email with digital signage or another kind of display board would be compelling.  However implementing digital signs or even manual boards (such as a pin-board or white board) can also be challenging and time consuming.  

Vestaboard is already in-design to be a simple out-of-the-box sign that integrates directly with a mobile app and / or workplace tools like slack or email.   We are proposing to work with a specific organization to implement Vestaboard for the sole purpose of promoting gratitude in the workplace.

By combining common workplace tools with a large public display like Vestaboard, we believe we can create an authentic positive impact inside a natural work environment.

A single Vestaboard could be used in a smaller office (3-40 employees) whereas multiple Vestaboards could scale to multiple rooms and / or office locations.  Thus if we are successful with a small pilot we could expand the concept of Vestaboard + gratitude to other workplaces of all sizes.

For the purposes of this project we propose to work with Greater Good Science Center to how best to implement these messages of gratitude inside a workplace.  For example should we attempt to promote any message of thanks that occur on workplace tools (like Slack or email) onto a public board?  Or should the expression of thanks on a public board be pro-active by the giver of thanks? Should the receiver of thanks permit the public expression?  (By public we simply mean available to all workers internal to a workplace).

By combining expressions of thanks that occur in ordinary workplace tools and making these thanks widely seen through Vestaboard, there is great potential to:

(a) unmask the magnitude of thanks already occurring in a work environment;

(b) inspire or remind others to take similar action; 

(c) impact and ideally improve the culture of the organization

Vestaboard is a highly visible object itself and therefore provides high impact potential to promote gratitude in a way that is relevant and meaningful.  The idea of combining workplace tools with a public display could help individuals, teams and the overall culture thrive with gratitude.


Idea Title

Vestaboard - thank a co-worker on Slack or email, then let everybody can see it!

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

By using common workplace tools like Slack or email, we can keep things easy for people to think about gratitude by focusing on gratitude that is already occurring every day. A simple thanks on Slack could be instantly translated to a public message on a Vestaboard, for example. In turn Vestaboard reinforces the message of thanks, which inspires others to say thank you using their common workplace tools. This keeps the spirit of thanks natural to the environment, while still fostering an overall culture of gratitude. It brings the thanks from depths of instant message or email into the open.

Who are you innovating for?

This idea benefits individuals in an office setting of any size, small to large. We recommend starting with one Vestaboard in single office of 20-30 people. This implementation would make it easy to recognize the impact the use of a Vestaboard (integrated with workplace tools like Slack) could have. We would have a tighter feedback loop on the exclusive use of Vestaboard for gratitude (vs. other use cases). We could then scale the concept of gratitude + Vestaboard to other workspaces.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

We think an office of creative teams may be a best place to start, but the concept of gratitude + Vestaboard could apply to a range of workplaces for any industry.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

We would start with an understanding of how a specific office uses common workplace tools like Slack, email or IM and identify the best way to implement an expression of thanks into a publicly displayed message on the Vestaboard. We would also need to identify a visible location inside the office for Vestaboard. We would install and deliver the Vestaboard and make sure the system was working.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Slack presents the simplest form of integration. Other tools may not be as easy to integrate with or may not be readily used by the workplace users. We would also want to strike a balance to preserve messages of gratitude intended to be private vs. public. We believe we can overcome these challenges through the proper design of software systems within our control.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

We'd propose to identify a project manager within the organization to work with our project manager to set-up and provide feedback on gratitude + Vestaboard. We'd want to survey workers who are involved in the project on their feedback, both on the role of using the right workplace tools to say thanks and how those expression of thanks are shown on the Vestaboard. We'd want to understand how messages of gratitude on the Vestaboard make participants feel.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

We'd immediately identify the right workplace to implement the gratitude + Vestaboard experiment. We believe we could find an eligible organization within three (3) days and we could probably identify a specific organization before any grant is made if required

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

The idea emerges from the creation of Vestaboard, which was inspired by putting inspirational quotes on the walls of kids rooms. As we bring Vestaboard to market we are looking for new and inspiring ways that Vestaboard could be used in other spaces. A public board for the expression of gratitude may be an effective use case for Vestaboard, and Vestaboard may help foster a culture of gratitude inside an office space.

Tell us about yourself

Dorrian Porter is the founder and CEO of Vestaboard. Faiza Hassan is the product designer and mechanical engineer. Ian Guyer is operations and support, and will be in charge of implementing a pilot. Moustafa Badawy is the lead software developer. Industrial design was by Fred Bould and Anson Cheung of Bould LLC, who have worked on Nest, Roku and GoPro.

Where are you / your team located?

Menlo Park, California

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Vestaboard, Inc. is a Delaware C-Corporation.

Company / Organization Name

Vestaboard, Inc.

Website

http://www.vestaboard.com

Tell us about your experience

Dorrian is an established entrepreneur and also serves as Board Chair of the Museum of Craft and Design. Faiza is a seasoned product designer and mechanical engineer who worked on Amazon Echo. Ian is an expert in operations but has a degree in psychology. Moustafa currently lives in Egypt and has recently been approved for his H1-B to move to the United States.

Please describe, in detail, how you will test and get feedback on your concept.

Vestaboard is a product that is currently in R&D and there are many potential use cases in an office setting. Our team at Vestaboard has access to tools to introduce the concept of Vestaboard and we were excited to consider and implement a use case for spreading gratitude in the workplace.

We had three members of our team create experience maps that we could use for interviews at external client meetings. We presented these interaction ideas with our digital prototypes of Vestaboard using a mobile device and a computer to different businesses. We met with the following:

Uber (www.uber.com)
Ryan Sokol - Director, Engineering & Josh Clemm - Manager, Engineering

Gauger + Associates (www.gauger-associates.com)
Julia Gauger - Account Manager & Soraya Meehan, HR lead

Lucidworks (www.lucidworks.com)
Christine Sullivan- EA, Vibes Manager

We walked through the basic concept of Vestaboard with a presentation and showed our experience maps for gratitude to get feedback.

Please describe specifically how you plan to scale your idea. What are the key next steps you will take, and how will those steps inform the evolution and growth of your concept?

1) Identify which of the 3 potential customers to work with to implement, prototype and test gratitude use cases for Vestaboard in a live setting (or work with all 3)

2) Install a digital prototype of our Vestaboard asap (within 3-6 weeks). This involves installing an LED display wrapped with custom metal to look like the finished product of Vestaboard

3) Integrate Vestaboard software with the workplace software of choice (for example Slack)

4) Identify the different approaches for expressing gratitude based on more real-life user feedback and input. For example should all messages of gratitude expressed on computer flow to the Vestaboard? Should only some messages show up on the public display? What if only random messages of gratitude were shown?

5) Measure the impact on office satisfaction, employee morale, teamwork, happiness, empathy and general enthusiasm for the public display of gratitude

6) Replace our digital prototype with the finished Vestaboard mechanical product

7) Document the use case for using Vestaboard specifically for gratitude and identify other teams and organizations that may be interested in adopting Vestaboard for gratitude. For example Uber told us that they could see starting with one for 20-30 employees, and then scaling the idea to many different groups . We believe that combining Vestaboard with gratitude could be one of the most inspiring use cases for Vestaboard, which could have applicability in many types of workplaces

As we have seen in the Challenge, there is a tension between authentic expressions of gratitude and mandatory gratitude. How does your idea inspire truly authentic expressions of gratitude versus mandated ones?

In our interview with Lucidworks we learned there is already a #props channel on Slack used for thanks. However message volume can be overwhelming or get lost. At Uber they use a “clunky” HR tool to provide thanks and it is underwhelming. Both organizations were excited that combining public display of messages on Vestaboard would help solve each problem - it would create a “watercooler” atmosphere that gives people something to discuss together away from their computers.

Gratitude often thrives when opportunities for connection are created. How will your concept create new opportunities for human connection?

Aligned with the “watercooler”, we see Vestaboard as a conversation starter in the office. In addition to acknowledging people for work accomplishments we could also expand to messages outside the worklife- birthdays, work anniversaries or other accomplishments outside of work. By having a designated physical announcements (away from the computer) Vestaboard could make employees feel appreciated and give co-workers greater context to connect with each other away from their computers.

Who (specifically) will benefit from your concept, and how they will interact with it? What design considerations have you included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions? 

Vestaboard is a physical product that sits on a wall to display public messages. It has been designed to be beautiful (almost a piece of art) in most environments. Vestaboard works by allowing individuals to control messages using Vestaboard’s app, or by integrating with other applications.

We learned in this process that Vestaboard will likely work best when integrated with an existing workplace tool like Slack vs. a standalone application. We learned that email is unlikely to be a tool of choice despite our initial thesis, due to concerns about privacy and volume of email.

All employees who can see Vestaboard could benefit from seeing positive messages of gratitude, and spark conversation. We had different feedback on who’d be permitted to post messages to Vestaboard. While the largest organization stated they’d want to see everybody have a chance to post a message for all to see, the smallest organization stated they’d prefer to vet content ahead of time.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

We have 1 customer using a Vestaboard prototype to welcome guests and we are about to install 4 prototypes for other use cases. We’d use funding to prioritize our next installation specifically around gratitude and, depending on amount, it may be beneficial to prototype with both a large and small organization. We’d need:
-Costs of the digital display prototype
-Custom software development
-Cost of goods for the mechanical display
-Part-time project manager to implement & measure success

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Photo of Erin
Team

Really love this idea! Would be great if it can work with multiple input platforms (slack, text-to-device, web input, etc) to enable participation across all levels of employees. Would be great if there were 2 sizes...the large one is beautiful, but the pricepoint is a bit steep.

Photo of Dorrian Porter
Team

Hi Erin - I am so sorry we did not notice this comment until now. Would you kindly email our ceo dorrian (at) vestaboard.com so that we can see if there is a way to place Vestaboard with you. We do plan to provide a few to non-profits at no cost and if you are interested in the gratitude aspect that would be a great addition to what we are working on already as you say. Thank you!

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