Divvy is Chicago’s bicycle share system and the second largest in North America with over 5000 bicycles and 500 stations available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year. I signed on in 2013, at the very beginning, excited to help make it happen.
Divvy needed to increase the number of safe working bicycles they maintained on the streets at all times. As the bicycles got more use there was a higher rate of repairs needed. The Service Department was under the gun to come up with a working solution to maintain their agreement with the City of Chicago about the percentage of bicycles on the streets while maneuvering within a strict budget.
By looking at the effectiveness of the bicycle delivery industry at quickly getting to hard to reach places, we knew we were onto something. To move towards a working solution that benefited the whole company we had to first determine just what the challenge was. This led to the first round of staff interviews. These helped us to determine the rough service steps and who was involved. More interviews help us to flesh out details. At this point we also began doing inexpensive small tests to determine how the core service would work and played with what would enable it at a bare minimum. Each iteration built on the next. After we determined it could be done effectively, it had to wait for corporate approval. Once that was cleared, we made time for experience mapping sessions to better understand what different roles would face, what the interactions and touchpoints would be, and foresee any problem areas.
My Role: stakeholder and expert interviews, journey and experience mapping, actor mapping, business model canvas, prototyping
The proof is in the pudding. We learned that for the service department to get behind any solution that would really make a difference, they had to feel listened to in regards to how that solution could work. For ground level management to support it they needed to understand the research results and clearly see what the service could look like and how it would make their lives easier. For them to be allowed to send mechanics out into the field, they had to be cleared by corporate. The business case needed to be more than words and numbers. It needed to set out the whole story start to finish of how the service would happen in a visual manner, while having all the processes and numbers readily available. It needed to be easy for everyone – from mechanics all the way up to the COO – to work with.
My Role: storyboard, business model canvas, assembling testimonials
The mechanics at Divvy are very good at what they do. They are by nature tinkerers and perfectionists. They like things running smoothly. They also get bored after awhile doing the same thing day after day, so they were game for creating a service that would get them outside while making their lives easier. Iterative prototyping was a pretty easy concept for them to grasp. Even journey mapping made sense to them. They quickly figured out what the key moments of the service would be. The biggest challenge was brainstorming and experience mapping. They were very used to seeing a solution and going for it. Running through possible options before digging in was a new way of doing things. Mapping out what their experience as mobile mechanics helped them determine oversights they hadn’t considered, like understanding integration with the dispatch department and determining how a launch area could be built in a space that was already fairly taxed.
My Role: facilitating prototyping, brainstorming, and mapping workshops
At the time of my leaving, our initial research and business case had been approved by corporate and work was beginning to test the service in the field.
They have since incorporated several scalable mobile mechanic positions.
There has been a 400% increase in repairs by each of those positions compared to if they were working in the shop.
The mechanics report feeling happier about their job and look forward to their turn to going out in the field.
There is one less van trip per mechanic per day to congested zones in the city, thus reducing Divvy’s carbon footprint.
This helped increase the Divvy’s weekly bikes-in-field number from 88% to 92% without having to hire new employees. Trust me, that’s a big deal.
"We will have better access to hard to reach areas than the trucks would. It will be fun to interact with customers and maybe answer any questions they may have. Field mechanics make Divvy better!!!"
"I think this could relieve some of the work on the service department and save time by keeping minor repairs on the street to be fixed without bringing more bikes in the shop."