A 24-hour design sprint to ideate and map out a Mentor Programme for LinkedIn, expanding upon its core value of connections and growth.
Let’s assume you are a Product Designer at LinkedIn. A Product Manager comes up with a new opportunity to improve business profitability and revenue. He describes the feature as follows: LinkedIn has a lot of experts on the platform across all industries, equally enough, there are a lot of people who would pay for expert advice from these experts. Students too would love to get mentorship from these experts. Experts on the other hand would love to make money by offering their services and also offer free mentorship to students.
LinkedIn as a corporate social network already handles mentor-mentee relationships indirectly by providing them a platform to connect with according to their interests and goals. Apart from that, LinkedIn is equipped with evaluation (LinkedIn Assessments), communication (LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda), and collaboration (MS Office integration, text, Zoom and MS Teams integration), it made a lot of sense for LinkedIn to pivot towards the feature of mentor-mentee collaboration, which can evolve into a micro-consultancy format for corporates and SMEs in the future. Here’s my attempt to collate data, generate insights and develop concepts for the product feature proposal.
There is a multitude of products in the market that prove the effectiveness of mentor-mentee relationships. Types of products in the market are as followed:
- Networking-focused: Products that focus on bridging the distance between mentors and mentees through a common platform, allowing them to communicate and collaborate.
- Intense training and growth-focused: Products that focus on building close relationships with mentors and mentees, where growth is synonymous for all the parties involved in the process. Provides great value to the mentors as it leads to the creation of valuable relationships and assets in the form of future partners and employees.
- Support tools: Tools that help individual mentors to set up time management, scheduling and channels to allow mentees to communicate with mentors without any intermediate connection service. Some examples are Calendly and Microsoft Bookings. Maybe set up a meet with me so that we can discuss the case study 😉.
I went ahead and did some in-depth analysis and classification to figure out the feature sets that these services offered and what we can learn from the current competitors in the market.
I was able to identify users that'll be targeted with this product feature. The roles of mentors and mentees were broken down, with the mentees and their expectations listed accordingly. Mentors, their skills and the services that they offer were identified and listed accordingly to understand expectations across the board and map out interactions between the users.
Mentor motivation and incentives
Since mentor motivations needed to be defined a lot more clearly given, I delved deeper into their motivations and expectations. The aim was to sway them away from direct financial motivation to take up mentorship roles to prevent the dilution of meaningful mentor-mentee relations.
Literature Review and Insights
I quickly skimmed through research papers, journals and blogs with the expectation to discover behavioural and social insights that can help me assume user expectations and goals, and validate my ideas later in the process.
Focus Areas and Goals
With all the research, mapping and insights in mind, I was able to set up focus areas and goals for the users and their interactions, expectations, and general outline of the system for ideation and building user flows.
I started out with ideation to chart out general idea verticals to flesh out later in the case study. There already exists an informal structure within LinkedIn in the form of disconnected product features/services like Gold Earning and Business Insights, Inmails, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) which can support mentor/mentee relationships to a certain extent. This system can be formalised to create a service that can support mentor/mentee relationships within the corporate social network, giving mentors the chance to use their existing media visibility to put their message out as a mentor.
I shortlised some ideas for further detailing and to develop final concepts to convey parts of the product feature.
I collated all my insights and research to generate user personas for mentors and mentees respectively so as to generate user flows and concepts to represent the product features. The user personas are generalised assumptions to create flows and further research is required to create more specific personas.
I generated users flows to give a general sense of what the feature is going to be like and map out all the interactions, interventions and emotions for the same.
This user flow has been made in form of a scenario, and is mapping out the interaction between the two proposed personas of Prashant Patel and Mukesh Hegde respectively and includes the First Run Experience and initial interactions between the two.
Since this was a service design case study, I primarily focused on mapping out interactions, defining user expectations, motivations and goals, and figuring out solutions that are consistent with LinkedIn's vision and just provided a formal structure to bring all its services together to become the next hub for mentor-mentee relationships.
As we can see that LinkedIn already provided the affordances of mentor-mentee interaction, and has services that can sustain this product feature technically and financially with small changes in the system itself.