Athena Case Study

1

Understand

2

DEFINE

3

DESIGN

4

TEST

The current problem with Performance Management

Athena aims to shake employee performance management by putting people before numbers.

A lot of companies are still stuck in yearly reviews and dubious KPIs. But our world changes faster every day and that requires employees that can adapt, pivot, and change. Only getting metrics higher is not enough. 

Athena proposes a platform where performance tracking is part of the day-to-day tasks. Together with tracking projects and to-do lists, the platform lets you communicate with peers, achieve long-term goals, stay in touch with other teams, learn new skills through materials or peers, and take control of all your HR requests. As a manager, it allows you to have a real-time view of all of your team: what are they working on and how are they growing day by day.

On this personal project, I have researched leadership and management in depth. I have read the theories of the thought leaders in the area and I have accessed reports with data from many companies—big and small. 

Personas

To me, a good design starts with a good story. And without key characters, that story is not possible. In this case, it was not only essential to find the main characters for this story, but also identify those they would typically interact with.

I started analyzing different types of teams. Even though there are many structures out there, most of them have the same structure: employee, middle management, and senior management.

For Athena, my main focus would be on a middle manager (Emily, The Chapter Lead) and a person on her team she mentors day in and day out (Daniel, The Designer). Further below you can see some secondary personas: a new colleague in Emily's team (Anna, The Newbie), a senior manager (Laura, The Tribe Lead) and an even more senior manager (James, the CEO).

I also made sure that the deliverables where reflecting the most important areas of the personas up-front: what are their interests? Gains? Pains? Jobs-to-be-done? Tools they typically use? Personality? What is their story with the product? How are they going to use it? And in which devices?

Information Architecture & Interaction Design

I started sketching out a lot of different ideas for the key identified features. I annotated them, scratched them, and re-did them a few times.

Once I was happy with how the flow was starting to look like, I moved to Balsamiq to create some initial wireframes. I focused on getting the layout right, the Information Architecture, and the interaction between screens.

Due to the complexity of the topic itself, and the amount of features it could - and should - hold in order to become a valuable hub, I strongly focused on keeping things simple, and make sure each role and person has access to the information that matters the most to them.

Branding & Style

As a management metaphor, Athena is the name of a launch system to put rockets into orbit. 

Athena should be calm and supportive as a brand. Energetic, too. It should be the essence of a great manager that is always there for you when you need them, that is transparent, and that it's also there to cheer you up and get you going.

I settled for a combination of mint and yellow to express that balance: 

Bringing it all together: the final UI

I'm presenting here a couple final screens for each persona. The emphasis is on a clean UI that allows team members to get the information they need in real time.

For Daniel, logging in should be as easy as secure. The platform welcomes him with the most important elements of the week: active projects, tasks, goals, and learning materials.

Emily needs access to those same elements to manage her day-to-day, but she also needs to be able to quickly see if there are any allocation issues, and how is performance going overall. She can also drill down and see how every person on her team is doing.

Conclusion & Next Steps

Growth and performance are areas that I believe to be really important in anyone's life and career. In this Information Era, career paths are just not a straight line anymore. Being able to attain new skills and change or pivot careers is essential. On top of that, being supported and challenged on your job should not be a luxury for anyone. We all should know exactly where we stand at any point, and what we can do to be better.

Athena is aiming to solve just that, to help everyone gather all data in one place, and allow people to focus on keep developing themselves - and each other.

This project is still WIP and I'm planning on developing it further so I can test it and validate all assumptions, as well as understand how the platform should adapt to different needs on different teams.