It’s About The Who Not The What

As I sit around the table with my project team, we discuss who we are trying to help. This is an important step in design thinking, who are you trying to solve a problem for? I have worked through this framework of thinking before as part of Filene Research Institute’s* Innovation Group, however, this is the first time my project team are deciding to solve for a couple. 

As we explored helping people with their financial decisions we often brought up a partner, who they may live with, have children with, share finances with, etc. That’s when we decided that our empathy map needed to be for two. 

What is an empathy map? It’s a tool used to help gain a deeper insight into your target audience. We have spent a lot of time discussing the specifics of our couple: what things they like to do, what stresses they have, what are their occupations, and what their current financial situation is. You may remember from my first blog that we use the term ‘tangled’ to describe their financial situation (if you haven’t read it, go check it out!). We know we can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. This meant another attribute was that our couple was self-aware that they needed financial advice (whether they share that with each other is another story). 

Statistics show money as one of the leading causes of divorce. And while marriage counselling isn’t part of our project, we are in the business of finances and helping people. We see an opportunity to look at a situation many people are in, making financial decisions while in a partnership. We know that every couple is different, their financial habits and communication around money can really vary.

You may be wondering why we are so focused on our imaginary couple, isn’t this a waste of time? Shouldn’t we be figuring out our problem and finding a solution? This is the whole point of human centred design, to solve a problem based on your customers/members/Owners needs. 

Human centred design means you are putting the people you are solving for at the centre of your project. If you are creating a solution, you want to make sure it is for a problem they have or something they actually need or want. It makes a lot of sense for us at Libro. We believe that everything we do should be for the betterment of our Owners (members). We can all make assumptions about problems people are facing or solutions we think they want, the reality is we can’t know that unless we take the time to do the research and be thoughtful in our process. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and think about what it is that they are thinking, feeling and dealing with on a daily basis. Only then can we really figure out the problem that we want to help solve.

  • What are you doing to consider your audience? 
  • Are you putting your members/customers at the centre of your decision making? 
  • Have you tried an empathy map before? 

Now that we have our couple figured out, it’s time to move on to our problem statement. What’s a problem statement? Stay tuned for my next blog to find out!

Emily Strybosch

*Filene Research Institute is a non-profit, independent, think and do tank changing people’s lives through ideas, truth and cooperation. Through independent research and innovation, the Filene Research Institute explores issues vital to the future of credit unions and consumer finance.