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Eric Moore

Now that we understand what design thinking is, it is time we learn how to use it. In part two of our design thinking discussion, app designer Deanna joins Eric and Chris to walk us through her practical application of the framework.

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The 4 phases of Design Thinking

Now that we understand what design thinking is, it is time we learn how to use it. In part two of our design thinking discussion, app designer Deanna joins Eric and Chris to walk us through her practical application of the framework.

We start by explaining the four phases of the design thinking process and follow Deanna’s story and design process for context. We also discuss how making empathy maps (and what they are), Eric’s cleverly named rose-thorn-bud concept, and where data analysis and confirmation bias come into play.

This episode is sponsored by HolaBrief.

Oct 5

The 4 phases of Design Thinking

In part two of our design thinking discussion, app designer Deanna joins Eric and Chris to walk us through her practical application of the framework.

How to apply Design Thinking to your creative process

Now that we understand what design thinking is, it is time we learn how to use it. In part two of our design thinking discussion, app designer Deanna joins Eric and Chris to walk us through her practical application of the framework.

We start by explaining the four phases of the design thinking process and follow Deanna’s story and design process for context. We also discuss how making empathy maps (and what they are), Eric’s cleverly named rose-thorn-bud concept, and where data analysis and confirmation bias come into play.

This episode is sponsored by HolaBrief.

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Greg Gunn

Greg Gunn is an illustrator, animator and creative director in Los Angeles, CA. He loves helping passionate people communicate their big ideas in fun and exciting ways.

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How to apply Design Thinking to your creative process

Episode Transcript

Deanna:

I had this huge sticky note map on my wall and then I started to be like, "Okay, this cluster is specifically for these things that a bunch of people said." And really finding clusters, that's what affinity map is, and that's really kind of how I got to where it is today. It wasn't, "Oh, I'm going to do this because I think it's going to be good," it was literally other people telling me what they need.

Chris:

Eric, please introduce yourself and set the agenda for us.

Eric:

Hello everybody. My name's Eric Moore. You may also know me as the design thinker. Now what that really means is I'm a communication strategist and coach who blends the discipline of design thinking with the art of non-violent communications. And my work focuses on transforming quiet leaders into authentic storytellers so they can go out in the world and tell their story and hopefully change lives forever. I also want to introduce Deanna. Deanna.

Deanna:

Thank you. Hi. So my name is Deanna. I am originally from Lithuania. My last name, I say [foreign language 00:01:32], which I know is really difficult. I am a founder of an app called Village. We are working on it. It's for single parents. I'm a single mom myself of a four-year-old boy who is thankfully at his daycare right now so I can talk to you guys. But here we are and I am very excited to share my process and my team and what we're doing.

Eric:

So today's agenda, we're going to do a couple of things. First, we'll recap a few highlights from last week's event, reintroduce you to some key people, and finally dig into today's topic, which is understanding the world using design thinking. And so, Chris, Deanna, are you ready?

Chris:

I am ready.

Deanna:

Yes, please go.

Eric:

Excellent. So to recap, we break these events down to match four phases of design thinking based on... This is my own personal model. I call it the Real World Design Thinking Model. And it breaks down in four phases. One, seeing the world. Number two is understanding the world. Number three, the third phase, making for the world, and the final phase, telling the world your story. You made this beautiful thing, now how do we get it out there and people are aware of it? So each part represents distinct activities a person might do when following the design thinking process.

And I believe it's important to teach the power of design thinking through more practical application. And I realize we're limited with audio, but we're trying to frame this practical application through Deanna's experience in bringing an app to life. And so thinking about some of those questions you want to ask if we need to dig into more. But we are ready to move on and make this real by letting Deanna take over. Really what I want you to do here is share that goal in creating an app that helps single parents. Help recap what your app intends to do, and, of course, the name you've chosen for it. So Deanna, over to you.

Deanna:

Okay, so the app, again, I call it Village because the idea for me is I think it takes... Number one, I guess everybody knows this, it takes a village to raise a child. And I think in today's society, a lot of that is lacking, especially if you're a single parent. You pretty much have to do everything on your own. You do not have much of support or community, hopefully have parents. But what if you don't? What if you're traveling? What if you move away and you don't know anybody and you are literally on your own? If you have a spouse, you can kind of hopefully rely on each other. But as a single mom or a single dad, that is very often not the case. And for me, talking to a lot of people, I'm realizing that pretty much everybody has a single-parent story, be it they come from a single-parent household, they are, or their sister is, or their best friend.

I'm just kind of amazed, kind of I share this idea and this app with people and it's like everybody that I talk to seems like they can relate to it. And I'm like, "Man, there's so many single parents out there." But the idea for the app, basically from, again, my research, talking to a lot of single parents, number one, I want to create a community. I want for single parents, especially who are living close by, let's say within the zip code or the city you live in, to find one another to be able to help each other. First, it starts in the app. You talk, you kind of see who's around you. My idea is to have a live map that you can have an idea how many other single parents are around you. And especially if you can relate, maybe you are a widow or you have a child who has a disability or you're a single dad and you can visually see other single parents who are the same exact kind of experience that you are having.

And you can kind of help each other out, talk to each other, build that community, build your own village and village of other people who are in similar situations within the app. So that's kind of the first thing. The next thing is resources, being able to share legal resources. Maybe there's a doctor that you know who helps or for free, or there's a daycare that's really good in your area, your zip code, your city or whatever. And people can kind of upvote and be like, "Yes, this daycare is amazing." Stuff like that. Or maybe parenting resources, financial housing organizations, that kind of stuff. And number three would be fast childcare. So we're still working on it and we'll see.

Eric:

Thank you, Deanna. And can you share two or three observations you were seeing in your world that really tipped you over? Meaning what got you excited to say, "Gosh, darn it, I'm getting out there and I'm creating this app."?

Deanna:

Honestly, as you were talking, I was thinking of stuff that is still happening that literally happened earlier this week that I know happened to me back when I had this idea, which basically I had an appointment, kind of an emergency thing, and I couldn't find a babysitter for my son. I had something to go to and I could either ask my mom, but it depends on how she's feeling, if she wants to help or not.

So it's very unreliable. Or I went to three babysitters that I usually use and none of them was available. So basically, that was kind of the idea for me that I really need someone to help me with my son and I have nobody to help me. And that happens a lot. And I'm sure that happens to many single parents. And maybe not just single parents, I'm sure too, But I think single parents especially, that happens a lot, where maybe you need to go to the hospital or there's a family emergency or you need to prepare for an interview and you're like, "I really need a couple hours to myself right now." I guess that's one of them.

Eric:

No, those are all good points, particularly... I make this personal too, is that unfortunately someone close to me got COVID and so it made it difficult for reaching out to that person to help with childcare or having to come over. But that's a very real thing. So I appreciate you digging into that. In design thinking, there are several methods for seeing the world and really it's just my generalized way of saying research. We're going to dig into what it means to actually understand, analyze, unpack, whatever word you want to use there, to truly get at the heart of the research. Because at the end of it, you just got all these data points. So how do you make sense? And this is where in this case, Deanna had completed her initial research and now needs to make sense of all. She had several interviews under her belt, a lot of data all over the place. So, Deanna, can you share with us what you did to make sense of that initial chunk of research?

Deanna:

Yeah, it's a good thing that I've kind of passed that so I can talk about what I did and I'm not actually doing it.

Eric:

Right.

Deanna:

The first thing I did, and I've learned this in my design school, is I had all this research and I think maybe the first thing is I just got a bunch of sticky notes and either that, I started writing things down. I remember on sticky notes and stuff and it was first from the things that I could think of in my head like, "Okay, these things were said, whatever." And then going through my notes, going through things I found, going through kind of interview notes that I did, and really writing down things that stuck out to me. And also the Facebook feed and people kind of responding. So I had a bunch of different sources of research that I collected. The surveys, again, the Facebook interviews, diary studies.

I guess I'm really big in research, so I just started doing sticky note writing, kind of the main things that jumped out at me. And then I started putting those on a wall. And I have pictures, maybe you've seen in my PowerPoint, but I had this huge sticky note map on my wall and you want to use colors, of course, different color sticky notes for different things that you're writing down. But once I had everything down and all the sticky notes on the wall, then I started to be like, "Okay, this is for people talking about being lonely maybe." And putting the sticky notes about community, feeling isolated, one thing.

So this cluster is specifically for these things that a bunch of people said and really finding clusters. That's what affinity map is, finding things. And this is not me saying, this is other people saying this stuff. So really this is father kind of thing, this is childcare stuff. And that's really kind of how I got to where it is today, how I got to the points that the app is focusing on it. It wasn't, "Oh, I'm going to do this because I think it's going to be good," it was literally other people telling me what they need, a lot of people.

Eric:

So, Deanna, what I'm hearing you say is that out of that initial research, you were... I use the term bucket, but you were putting the different categories, themes, into these clusters to understand the different parts of your research. Is that right?

Deanna:

Yeah, exactly. I was just kind of clustering or I guess bucket thing that you're calling, into this is one kind of section and these are the sticky notes. And I think I also used people maybe for the interviews. I think I wrote down some names, maybe the green sticky notes were for Angela and the red ones were for Susie. So I could have an idea of which person said what and where the clusters were going.

Eric:

The different colors meant different people, is that right?

Deanna:

Yeah, I think that's kind of how I did it, but there's different ways to do it, I know.

Eric:

You just taught me something. That's a great way to start to categorize it. But so affinity really means similarities. You're bucketing things that are similar. So if it was all about childcare, you had different quotes or different elements from your research that had to do with childcare, Is that correct?

Deanna:

Yeah, well, childcare and really just what single parents were telling me. It wasn't necessarily just childcare because some parents were saying that they felt like they had no support. Some parents were saying, "I feel like I do everything on my own, I have nobody to help me." So I guess that could be childcare. But other parents were saying, "I really want a role model, a male role model to be in my son's life." That's one person said that, "I want a good man to come in and to show my son what it's like to be a good man." Again, that was literally someone said that to me.

Eric:

So I'm going to pause there. Chris, you've been awfully quiet, but I want to make sure you have some space here. Is this something you've done before in your work or is something akin to it?

Chris:

You're talking about affinity mapping?

Eric:

Yes, sir.

Chris:

Not exactly like this, but clustering things together, I've done in a less formal way. We would create image buckets when we're doing research. So when I was writing a concept for a music video or commercial, I would walk away from the client brief and say, "Here are the three main keywords." And I would put a team on it and say, "Anything that you think remotely relates to this, grab an image and put it in this folder." And through that, you can quickly scan and spot patterns and notice where there are gaps. And so that is usually the spring for some of our creativity. Another thing that we do is I think we would refer to it as an empathy map. It's not quite the same, but figuring out who the ideal target or customer is and trying to walk in their shoes and look at the world through their eyes by creating a visual representation of that. So what they would see, what they would do. So we would collect images based on those key prompts. So similar but a little bit different.

Eric:

That's great. And actually, that does give us to a nice segue of empathy map, which was the other tool I wanted to talk about here. And I do want to just pause for a moment and have a word on empathy because I think it's kind of thrown around a lot today and it can often lose its meaning. Empathy is very much a success factor in the design thinking process. And so I'm not a psychologist or a behavioral scientist, but I've come to learn that there are about three types of empathy and one is cognitive empathy, which is, "Yep, I get it, you're in a bad situation or you're super excited." And that can help you, especially as a creative, like Chris was describing, it's connecting. I know what they're saying and I can go and create something on that notion.

Then there's that emotional empathy, which is you've gone through the same thing, you have shared feelings and that helps you build an emotional connection. The third empathy that I had learned about is called compassionate empathy, which goes beyond simple understanding of others or sharing the same feelings. It's what actually motivates you to take action to help however you can. So the empathy map can contain all those three types, but I don't think you have to necessarily go through the same experiences as others to truly create something special. So for example, Chris, when you and your team created the motion graphics, and keep me honest here, for the Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, you didn't literally need to be crazy to do the work, but I can imagine you and your team immersing yourself and understanding what does that word mean? What does it mean both literally and figuratively, and how is it represented by the artist? Did I get that right, Chris?

Chris:

Yeah. Some clarification there. Robert Hales directed that music video. He wrote this treatment about a Rorschach test coming alive and he asked for us to help him bring that vision into reality. And so when you first go on and search up anything about Rorschach test, the inkblot test, if you will, there's very little that you can find because I guess if enough people saw them ahead of time, it would allow them to answer the question differently. So there has to be some level of secrecy around what the Rorschach test actually looked like. And so there was very little that we can find. And so as we're exploring inkblots, and at that time, there were no references that we could find, we basically had to invent a solution to try to see what would work. And then, of course, that spawned a whole clone of copycat kind of videos using the same concept. But we did look into some of it as much as we can find online.

Eric:

Okay. I didn't realize that was such a challenge for you that I take for granted how easily we can search images, but that's an interesting side note. So back to the empathy map, again, I encourage everybody, if you can, follow along, Google empathy map canvas or template. There's kind of one universal one with the big head on it and it has seven parts. And I'll briefly go through the seven parts and then I'm going to have Deanna talk about her empathy map. So just to keep it high level, the seven parts are who, who do you actually want to empathize with? Who are you trying to solve for? Really understanding the person, the situation they're in, and possibly what role they play in it. Part two is what they need to do. What is the thing that can get them out of their quagmire, their challenge or get to a better outcome?

But it's not also about the doing, but it's how you as say, the designer in this case or in Deanna's case, how do you know you've been successful? So number three is see, what do they actually see? What are they seeing in the marketplace? In their immediate environment? Are they watching or reading certain things that are motivating their emotions? Number four is say. So what do they say during the interviews? And Deanna, I'm going to have you touch on this a little bit. What are they hearing? But it's also about how you can imagine what the person you just interviewed, what they might say as a way to guide your creation. Much like what Chris was saying, was like, "Okay, well, what would a Rorschach test look like?" I know a Rorschach test can't say something, but it's imagining without having the person or the thing there all the time.

Okay, number five, what do they do? This isn't what they're going to be doing, but what do they do in their current state? What are their behaviors? What are they doing today? Number six is hear. What are they hearing from friends, family, coworkers, secondhand gossip if you will? Hearing certain negative things can make you feel down or positive things. And then lastly is what are they thinking and feeling? And the empathy map does a good job of just breaking this down between pains and gains and pains is just a simple way of saying and capturing fears, frustrations, that type of thing. And then the gains are what do they want? What do they need? Dreams, hopes, desires. So, Deanna, I want to be a little careful here because I may have misheard you, but on the empathy map that you shared with me, it seemed like you captured what on face value looked like harsh sentiments. Like, "Oh, you really need to get a man."

Deanna:

Oh, my God.

Eric:

I'm so sorry for her and her kids. On face value, that looks really bad, but help me understand what the context there.

Deanna:

Yeah, I guess you really analyzed my empathy map, huh?

Eric:

I did.

Deanna:

I'm looking at it right now myself. So I did the empathy map after... And again, this was really initially after interviewing about eight single moms and I need to do another one for single fathers because that gave me such a huge open my mind I guess. But for this one, I guess. What you said, so when you mentioned number six, what do they hear? Again, the first things that came to my mind... This was, again, after absorbing all the research I did, was like you said, you really need to get a man, your son needs a role model, you really need to get it together already... Sorry, the things I wrote in my empathy map. And then I am so sorry for her and her kids. And again, I asked single moms, "How do you think that single moms or single parents are viewed in society, in your opinion?"

And several of them said, "Someone who is poor, someone who doesn't have it together, someone who clearly failed in life, I guess. If she's alone then something's wrong with her." And I feel like all that stuff, when you hear it... And same thing with being a single dad, when you hear certain things and you see certain things over and over again, I think you kind of start to believe it. You're like, "Well, maybe I am screwed up or maybe something is wrong with me because I don't have a man. As a woman or as a father, maybe if I don't have a woman to take care of the house and the kids, clearly something's wrong with me." So these are some beliefs I think that a lot of people, especially single parents, have these insecurities about and can be vulnerable I think, and be more defensive as a result, I think. Someone said from his observation of single parents, a lot of single parents are more defensive and more guarded, I guess, which I totally agree.

Eric:

And so to the audience, where I start to use empathy map and when I work alongside Deanna and her team, I really want to dig into these sentiments. We're not doctors, we're not going to really dispel a lot of these beliefs. That's a lot of self-work that needs to be happening. But as an app, maybe you could create daily affirmations like, "Yes, you're a great mom, you're doing great. Check-in with yourself, take a moment to pause, tap yourself on the back." These are small little steps that one could take as they're designing this app. And that's where we try to connect feeling... I don't want to say feeling sorry for someone, but having that empathy and then turning that empathy into action.

Deanna:

I feel like I agree with what you just said and I feel like a lot of times, it's really having... Again, going back to my app, it's really having someone who understands what you're going through. When I was interviewing single dads, one of them knows a bunch of single fathers and he was telling me how all these kind of fathers almost come to him to talk to him because he has been through the things that they're going through and how they feel that they're not good enough for their kids. And in turn, they're like, "I'd rather not be in their life because their mom is so much better than I am and I couldn't even measure up." So having another person who understands and can listen to you and kind of support you, someone who's been through it, I think it's like 12-step groups that people know about it.

Greg Gunn:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back. Welcome back to our conversation.

Eric:

You've done your interviews, you've put affinities to them, you've clustered them, bucket them. Chris, thank you for using the term bucket. I thought I was the only one. And then now you have some empathy, you're starting to understand, "Okay, I know what they're going through. I can start to figure out how to make this app work in these certain areas." There is one other method that I like to combine with empathy map and it's called Rose, Thorn, Bud. Essentially, Rose, Thorn, Bud is just a metaphor for capturing your observations against what's working. The Rose, all the pretty parts, what's challenging, the Thorns, things that might prick you or get in your way.

And then bud, and no, no 420 jokes, please. The Bud is what is about to blossom. What are some possible opportunities? These could be both a challenge and an opportunity or it could be an idea that you had two years ago. Deanna's very good at this. She'll be like, "Oh, I had this idea two years ago, now let's put it in the app." Let's tell a story. Let's make this Rose, Thorn, Bud a little bit more real. Chris, I'm curious, could you use this at home, this method, Rose, Thorn, Bud?

Chris:

Yeah, if I was open-minded enough, I could use it on anything, I think.

Eric:

Do you not consider yourself open-minded enough?

Chris:

Sometimes I'm not. I'm not going to lie to you, Eric. Sometimes, for example, I just need people to get stuff done. I wear the commander hat at that point in the household and say, "This really isn't up for debate." For example, a classic family, the Do family conundrum is, "Where do we want to eat?" And it becomes a nightmare. And I'll tell you the different roles and it may lead to a productive conversation or might be a total dead end, but here we are. So one of my boys is very particular, the other one is particular, but he's very open and he's very flexible. My wife has very specific things she would prefer to eat, but as the mother, she feels like she has to accommodate everyone. And I don't care about anything, I just want a decision. So there we are, the four staff members of the Do household.

And this repeats itself every single time. So when I'm being the commander, Eric, I just say, "We're going, if you want to eat, get in the car." "Where are we going?" "I don't know. When we get there, when we get there." "Do I have to go?" "Nope, you can stay at home, make your own food." So they're like, "Okay." So they get in the car and I just drive. Wherever we stop is where we eat. And that's the way it works. Where it gets complicated is my wife's like, "Where are we going to eat?" I'm like, "Do you have a preference?" And the answer's always a lie. Not intentionally. "No, I don't." And I say, "How about here?" "I hate that." "How about here?" "Don't want that either."

You know what I'm talking about, right? It's like, "Okay, why don't you tell me where you want." "But I need your input." I'm like, "I just gave you my input." So now, I'm driving. If we pass where we want to eat, then we've passed it and I won't turn around. So what is it? I'm time-boxing, to use a facilitation term. Basically, if I pass it, we're done and then we'll go where we go. So it's always a nightmare. And ultimately, the conclusion almost always is the one that cares the most in the car, my older son, usually gets his way because my wife accommodates.

Eric:

How old are your boys?

Chris:

18 and 16.

Eric:

Perfect. Teenage boys. My son is not old enough, but I have experience with teenage girls. So here's what I want to ask you. When they come home from school or wherever and you say, "Hey, how did it go today?" Do they mutter sort of monosyllabic answers like, "Eh, it was fine," or do they converse with you? Do they really dig into it?

Chris:

Oftentimes, they give very little answers except for when I really engage them in the conversation, where I don't ask them, "How did it go today?" Where there's some options there, I'll ask them different kinds of questions, "Tell me about your relationship with X," then it's kind of very directed and then they will open up. But oftentimes, both my sons are pretty unusual in this way that they're not trying not to tell this stuff, it's just sometimes they don't know what to say.

Eric:

You've got a good situation. My oldest, when she was 16, she'd come home from school and like, "How was the day? What's been going on?" And she would do the, "Yeah, fine." And took me a while to figure out, it wasn't that she didn't want to talk, she just wanted to unwind after school before launching into a conversation. And so I suggested she and I use Rose, Thorn, Bud at the dinner table. And so what we would do is get at the table and I'd say, "All right, RTB me." Rose, Thorn, Bud. And she'd say, "Oh, this thing went really well today. I had a really good connection with my friend. The school lunch wasn't as bad." Whatever the goodness was, she would share a challenge and then an opportunity like, "Oh, I think I'm going to get a jump-start on homework." And it really helped us to have better conversations.

And that's what makes RTB so powerful is that, one, it's easy to learn and you can apply it to any situation. And I think for designers, it's one of those really great things to get your client to engage you with instead of just this tirade of critique and lambasting your work. You set it up in this framework in which you can share the good, the bad, the ugly, if you will. But it has this bonus of working not only in seeing the world and making observations like Deanna was doing, but you can apply it to your research. And what I mean by that is you could say, "Okay, here are all the good things that are happening today for single parents."

So those are all the roses. Then the challenges. It's preferred to do it on a sticky note. It doesn't matter if you're on a virtual whiteboard or a physical piece of paper, because then you can move them around. But it's also a snapshot. It's not these long-winded paragraphs of parent went here and did this thing and then this thing happened and it was bad. You just summarize it and it makes the research easy to digest and honestly spit back out in a nice little findings report to your client as well.

Deanna:

Man, I am learning quite a lot about parenting from both of you. Usually, with my son, I get him from daycare and I'm like, "How are you doing? How was your day? How are you feeling?" I'm really big on feelings because I think emotions are number one for anything really. But that's usually what I ask. And now I'm thinking, when I get him from daycare today, I'm going to ask, "How is Delilah today?" Because he really has three girlfriends at his school. And I'm going to be like, "How did Delilah go?" Or whatever. But I'm learning I need to be more specific. So that's one thing I'm learning and not just generic with my questions towards my son.

Eric:

Yeah, I would say I made that observation too, Chris, I think you did that really well, where you narrowed it down to a relationship with a person versus just, "How's it going?" So kudos to you, sir.

Chris:

Well, thank you, Eric.

Eric:

Yeah, you're a good dad.

Chris:

I try to be sometimes. You have to interview my kids to get the real report, but yeah.

Eric:

Deanna, did you have anything you wanted to add? Any questions we might have overlooked?

Deanna:

One question I wanted to ask is how do you decide which research findings are valid and do you think there's such a thing as not valid research, especially when talking to people or interviewing, either if you have an opinion on it?

Chris:

I don't have, as part of my process, heavy research for a lot of what I used to do in the creative space. It was not the kind of research that you are referring to. So I'm going to pass this over to Eric.

Eric:

I'm going to hold you to account on that one a little bit, Chris, because I know the work that you do, you probably still do research, right? You used to do market research, you try to understand your pro group community. Nothing there that has a research element?

Chris:

Well, I mean, when Deanna was asking about, "How do you know if the research is valid?" I'll expand it this way. Here's what I find what happens a lot, people find data that lines up with their conclusion. And this happens to me all the time. I'll give you some examples. For example, Ben Burns, he's our chief operating officer. I don't think he does this intentionally, it just happens. He's like, "Here's what the data tells us based on three years of financial data, here's what I think we need to do." And I'm like, "That's not what I want to do." Or the team will say, "Hey, Chris, according to the YouTube data, we should call our video this." I'm like, "Well, what human talks like that?" And so what people do is they use the data sometimes as a crutch or sometimes as confirmation bias.

It happens over and over again. People will conduct interviews, they'll interview 10 or 20 program members and they'll say, "Here's what they want." And I'm a big believer in that historically speaking, the customers are the worst people to tell you what they really, really want. They want more of the same, for it to be faster and for it to be cheaper. But if you're in a space where you're trying to innovate and create new ideas and new services, you cannot rely on them. I think this is where leadership comes in and I take some pride in that. I think my gut is basically the right way to go. And my gut comes from reading lots and lots of comments, understanding the overall sentiment and then thinking, "If they knew how to tell me what they wanted, they would, but they don't because this happens all the time."

They'll say, "We needed to learn how to niche." I put lectures, worksheets, and then they don't niche. I'm like, "Well, that's obviously not what you want." Ultimately, for them, it becomes a commitment issue that they're afraid and they're operating from a scarcity mindset. And so when we can solve that, then we've solved the problem. So that's where I have some trouble with the data stuff, depending on who's presenting it to you, what kind of bias they have. We all have bias by the way. The data comes out the way they want it to come out, almost always, it seems like.

Eric:

There is a whole community within... In my small design thinking spheres, we keep each other in check around our biases and we try not to lean into the data too much. But unfortunately for someone new to this, if you're a junior designer or you just want to learn about this, you're like, "Okay, but how do I know? How do I know that gut instinct?" And I think, Chris, with your years of experience, you've been able to parse through what's real and what's proxy.

Chris:

Yeah. I want to mention one other quick thing here just because I don't want to throw anybody on the bus. I throw myself under the same bus. I lie down on the floor next to you, is this thing that I've heard Blair Enns say quite a few times, that all strategy is autobiographical. We tend to recommend to other people to do things that we've done that has worked for us. So here's the example. Ben is a person who's not had a formal design education.

He's kind of gone from the ground up working with very small clients, doing very small projects to where he's at now. I'm the person who went to I think a first class design school, graduated, had a lot of success, worked with the biggest clients and brands in the world. So when we look at a product and what we want to teach and how we want to make it, we're looking at it from very different lens. I'm looking at it, "I need to create a $2,000 program for people who need to grow to the next level." And Ben's looking like, "I need to make a $50 resource for the people who are scraping by." Now we want the same goal, we're just having completely different tactics. So we just want to think about that a little bit.

Eric:

At some point, you do need to make a decision, I won't answer about valid, non-valid, but let's assume you come to an agreement between you and your team. Yes, these are 10 really good areas to dig into, meaning of the research. And I like to use a thing called an impact difficulty grid or matrix. You might hear it as impact effort. I do it a lot differently, which is I take those 10 items from research and I only looked at the impact first. How impactful will this thing be to the app? In this case, Deanna. So if you really, really want to solve for the limiting beliefs, "Well, I'm not a good parent," that's a big chunk to swallow. I would argue that's impactful, but I don't know if it's something we can actually solve because it's very difficult. So that's how I start to think about research and what to move forward on.

Deanna:

I feel like what you just said, something like how do people trust something, I feel is more... You can grasp more. How can we create trust in this product? I feel like that kind of research would definitely be very servicing for this. And that's something we're working on. Reviews, ratings, what else creates trust and validity, I guess?

Eric:

All right, well, I see a familiar face. William's up on the stage. What's happening?

William:

Hey, how's it going? So first of all, a great conversation and both as a parent and a person that studies design thinking for a living. So got to say, definitely respect the conversation and I got a lot out of it. I guess I don't have as much of a question as I do a comment, but something that I do add to a lot of these processes that were covered today are the societal factors that play for folks. So during interviews, I will ask folks about forms of oppression that they've experienced and specifically centering what they've shared in the interviews. And then when it comes to the categorization of those things, which is a lot of what we talked about today, I will also form separate categories of putting some of these events and insights and answers into those buckets as well.

Eric:

Okay, so let me make sure I understand that, once you bucket them, you're drawing your own insights to them. Is that correct?

William:

No, more like some of the categories and things that I pull out of the interviews, I will have also asked about forms of oppression that folks have faced and if those particular... What they've shared with me have been impacted by those forms of oppression. And I'll bucket them into there as well to make sure that when the team that I'm working with is designing solutions, that they're keeping that in mind and they're doing the least amount of harm as possible when they create solutions.

Eric:

Right. So, Chris, I think... And William, keep me honest here, but this is a great way to sort of check that bias too.

Chris:

[inaudible 00:40:44] Yeah, I think so.

William:

Exactly.

Chris:

Yeah.

William:

Yeah.

Eric:

Well-

Deanna:

That's [inaudible 00:40:49] beautiful. Wow. I love it.

Chris:

I just wrote it on a note here, Eric, and I haven't done this before, but I've been asked this question before and it's a great self-awareness question before you do any kind of research, which is to quite literally ask, what is my bias? What are my blind spots? And just to write those things down so that when you're looking at the data, you're kind of checking in with yourself, "My gosh, I wanted to come out this way and that's why I'm seeing it." So just that kind of moment, pause, reflection can help you prevent from confirming your own bias.

Deanna:

Like how I was biased against single fathers, where I was like, "Oh, they don't need help." And then I'm like, "Actually they do a lot. They need a lot of help."

Chris:

Yeah, exactly. If you ask yourself, "What is my bias towards single fathers?" you would just write, "They don't need help, they have all the resources," whatever it is you, then you're like, "Whoa, wait a minute. I need to check in with myself."

Deanna:

Exactly What happened to me. I was like, "I think I'm not being fair here."

Eric:

Jignesh, love to hear from you as well.

Jignesh:

So I mean I have actually a kind of question to Chris and you, Eric, as well. Since most of the organization now going customer-centric, so how do you or when do you do the customer experience in your process?

Eric:

Well, I think that's a pretty broad question because arguably anything's a customer experience. I'm trying to understand what it is that you...

Jignesh:

Yeah, I heard many process, at the time of design thinking, that you mentioned. So in what phase you kind of start doing customer experience in the design thinking phase?

Eric:

Arguably it's the whole process and it depends on the problem you're solving, but design thinking at its heart is about human-centric services or design or processes, which means you're trying to keep the human, or in this case the customer at the center of the decision or the design decision. So I don't say it starts and stops anywhere, but at keeping a high level, what I would say to Chris's point, sometimes you kind of stop listening to the customer because they're not going to always give you the right data points to solve for the problem. Chris, I don't know if there's anything else you'd like to add there, but that's my point on customer experience.

Chris:

Yeah, I mean, obviously, I don't have the pedigree that Eric has in design thinking and studying these things, but I'm just leading with intuition and the things that I've learned. If you watch the customer carefully, if you start to look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs, at the very top is self-actualization. What is that called? Empowerment, feelings of belonging, those kinds of things. And if you look at that, if we live in a society where the base needs are met, food, shelter, clothing, basic things of comfort that you need just to have, and if we start to focus on what do our customers dream about having in their life? What is the pain point and a challenge? If you start to look through that lens, you'll start to see them all over the place. And so the task that I have as a person who runs a community of 700 plus people is to not say, "I want to focus in on this one problem."

I'm trying my best to do the most good for the most number of people. That means our edge cases will probably feel ignored and frustrated and it's a conscious decision that I have to make. So if there's an individual problem that doesn't impact the large majority of the people in our community, I kind of have to lower those in priority. And so here's an example, and I'll just tell you because we're talking about these things. I'm seeing this need and there's a big push here for our community to make sure that everybody is doing a $100,000 or more in revenue each year.

Some people are way past that into the millions, but there's still a lot of people who are trying to get through that. So I want to make a target of getting a 100 people pass a $100,000, which if you look at the totality of that, it's $10 million in money. That's how I want to make an impact. And I think whether or not those lessons that are being shared about how to grow to a 100,000 impact everyone, you can still pull pieces from it to impact where you're at. So if you're going from is zero to 50, you could be impacted, but maybe there's insight about how to scale and how to grow and develop customer relationships to someone who's at the 500,000 can impact or to learn from. So that's the kind of thing that I'm looking at.

Eric:

I love all the comments and sharing that you and Deanna have brought forth. And what I want people to take away from this is that I'm pretty passionate about design thinking, but I don't think you have to build an app for it to be a powerful process for any of you listening. So what can we see in the world that either drives us to make an app or a graphic or a Rorschach test that becomes a famous video? And then what can we do to understand what we've seen that then moves us to do some of that making and do it in a way in which it's smartly made because we actually understand it? And to Chris's point as well, how do we keep our bias out of it? Let's not design for design's sake, as an example. So that's it. I want to thank everybody here. Deanna, any last words from you?

Deanna:

Number one, thank you, Eric. You're amazing. Super, super grateful for all of your words and feedback and everything and for helping us be here. Honestly, if it wasn't for you, we wouldn't. So I am extremely grateful to you and to Chris, both of you guys, and everybody here as well. Thank you because at the end of the day, my mission is to help single parents. I want to help myself, I want to help others who are in this kind of situation as well. And if you guys want to help us, we very much welcome any kind of feedback, advice, words, anything. So thank you, again.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks For joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode. And thank you to Adam Sanborne for our intro music.

If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefutur.com/heychris, and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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