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Operation Tadpole

Rethinking frog's Onboarding Process

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Strategy / Research / Service Design

This past summer, I had the pleasure of interning at frog design. I got to work within a talented community, participate in exciting projects, and rap to Hamilton. To hear more about the internship itself, read this article I wrote for CMU's Design League. 

During my time at frog, myself and the other interns noticed that the onboarding process was a bit sparse. Onboarding is an essential part of the employee experience. It contributes to one's comfort in the studio, ability to work with others, and overall company loyalty.  We wanted to make the experience fun and empowering, in the hopes that new hires at frog can find their place and feel at home.

To read the playbook passed on to frog SF's Head of HR & Executive Creative Director, click here.

*A side note. Within the frog community, employees are often called frogs. Therefore, references to frogs, tadpoles, and friedolins naturally bled into our project and abound throughout this post.


Part 1 | Organizing the Project

Before beginning, we had to get a better sense of what we were aiming to achieve. We outlined our goals and established our availability.

Since most of us were also staffed on client projects throughout the summer, this was also an exercise in time management. A special thanks to Kat Davis, Andrew Haskin, Tammy Baird, Emily Brinkert, and Oonie Chase for helping to make this happen.


The Team

As four interns from diverse backgrounds with vastly different sets of skills, we were a bit of a motley crew. However, we worked well together and learned a lot from one another. I feel very fortunate to have gotten to spend the summer with this group.

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Adam Attas | Strategy

Maayan Albert | IxD

Shelley Lai | Visual Design

Sierra Potts | HR



Since this was a self-initiated project, we wanted to ensure that we addressed goals for not only for the project itself, but our own personal development. 

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Part 2 | Understanding The Current State


User Interviews

Before trying to improve the process, we had to get a better sense of its existing state. To do this, we conducted several user interviews with recent new hires, past interns, and current interns. During the interviews, we asked participants to describe their experiences in three words, map out their own journeys, and recount key moments during each phase of onboarding. In addition, we consulted with experts involved in the hiring and onboarding process.

We Interviewed:

3 Experts in the field \\ 3 Recent new hires \\ 3 Intern to full-time converts \\ 1 Intern in Austin, TX



Based on the interviews, we constructed a journeymap outlining each stage of the onboarding process. In addition, we noted strengths and pain points that occured along the way.

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Pain Points




Part 3 | Gathering Insights



Once we understood the current state of the onboarding process, we had to figure out how to improve it. To do this, we highlighted quotes, ideas, and observations from our interviews and generated a set of opportunity areas, insights, and how might we’s.


Opportunity Areas

We identified two key opportunity areas that the onboarding experience should fulfill for interns and new hires: 1) alleviating anxiety and 2) fostering connections.


Experience Principles

Based on these insights, we created a set of experience principles to guide the process of generating new ideas.

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Part 4 | Generating Ideas



To generate ideas, we lead a workshop in which frogs brainstormed new concepts based on our insights and opportunity areas. We also encouraged them to bring these concepts to life using lightweight prototypes and props. This culminated in a set of short skits performed at the end of the workshop.


Concept Development

After the workshop, we organized the concepts generated by our fellow frogs and voted on our favorites.


Part 5 | Defining The Future State

Based on our favorite concepts, we created a journeymap for a future state. 


Part 6 | Identifying Signature Moments

In order to flesh out our journeymap, we highlighted a few signature moments that we felt would be most important to implement in the future onboarding process.

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Part 7 | Next Steps

Midway through the summer, we found out that frog SF's Head of HR and Executive Creative Director were actually working on a similar initiative. The timing was perfect. We had gathered grassroots level information while they were rethinking the process from a management perspective.

At the end of our project, we shared out our findings. In addition, we included a few action items and key considerations to think about going forward. 

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Our findings were excitedly received. We provided key insights into blindspots that the executive team had. The Head of HR and Executive Creative Director are currently integrating our playbook into their plan. If all goes well, they will implement a new and improved version of the onboarding process soon.


Maayan Albert © 2019 | maayan.albert1@gmail.com