Design Thinking Forward – Session 3: Define

In this session, I emphasized the interrelationship between psychology and design thinking, and how important this relationship especially in the first two phases of design thinking: Empathize+Define both distinguish Design Thinking clearly from other innovation methods (more than Ideate/Prototype/Test) – if practitioners don’t show any proof for doing this, they don’t do design thinking.
Define POV means finding the point-of-view for the problem – from the user’s perspective. We mainly use interviews to extract this user perspective – but we are generally not aware of how much we understand from the interviewee answers because our perception is subject to filters. In psychology, these filters are called cognitive biases. We are usually not aware of how much selective perception determines the degree of bias that can completely change the outcome of an interview.
When I am looking for my opinion in the other’s answers, that’s the confirmation bias. When I’m asking somebody with high self-esteem in a doubtful way, I’m inducing the interviewee’s self-serving bias, resulting in self-enhancement.
What we want instead is to dig down from the surface of wishes and problems to level of basic human needs.
Human needs are heavily researched, but I feel most people are ignorant about the fact that Maslow’s hierarchy model is out-dated in psychology!
So once we digged down enough until we can hear the interviewee talking about needs, we are ready to extract this information into an empathy map. The content should cater to needs, meaning what does the user do/think/feel about the personal situation of need fulfillment. Then, we can use this information to model a persona.
Many people describe a persona far too detailed and just by imagination, not research – that’s why I tell my students, a good criterion for detail level is if you can derive the persona’s need from its description.
From here, crafting a POV is easy – just insert the persona, need and constraints in the Stanford formula User+Need+Insight. Finally, each team could define a POV in the form “How might we help the <persona> to fulfill <identified need> in a world where <insight>”. Eh voilà!