When working on problem definition you will uncover multiple interconnected root causes. To manage this complexity, gain consensus on the problem space, and ultimately scope your project you can use this framework to visually organize the problem space. The basic concept is that you start with the head of the octopus, “What is the high-level problem we are trying to solve?”. From there you can use the “5 whys” to drill down to the next level root causes of that problem definition, building the start of different tentacles. Continuing to ask “Why?” will allow you to build out each tentacle to get to the most granular root causes driving the problem space.
One of the best ways to understand an experience or problem in context is to experience it yourself. Immerse yourself in the physical environment of your target user. Do the things they are required to do to gain first-hand experience into the challenges they face. Completing a day in the life exercise will also help you build empathy for target users.
It is essential to validate feasibility and understand user needs before investing in the design and development of a product or service. A fake back end is a temporary, usually unsustainable, structure that presents as a real service to users, but is not fully developed on the back end. Fake back ends can help you answer the question, “What happens if people use this?” “Does this move the needle?”
We used a fake back end to enroll patients in a home discharge program that did not exist yet. We provided services to patients and communicated information back to providers during the pilot period.
This process enabled us to identify what worked in practice and what didn't, allowing us to iterate quickly and at a low cost. It also helped us generate early evidence that a program like PATH could reduce unnecessary admissions.
Delight is a great concept to utilize when solving for user satisfaction. Here the idea is to ask “what work can we remove for the user?” “what would they not expect in this service?”. Some examples of this are things like surprise discounts or free shipping on your first order, or a hotel creating an itinerary for you based on previously identified interests.