Created by George Teo
President’s Award for Teachers winner 2018
Business Design Associate and Course Chair at Singapore Polytechnic
Formally trained as a DesignThinking Trainer under the Rotman School of DesignThinking methodology. He is a certified Emotional Quotient (EQ) coach. His design thinking clients include brands like NTUC, Singapore Tourism Board, Sheraton, Dairy Farm, DHL, Gongcha, Elitez and Staple society among others.
Interested to find out more about GMAP? Submit your name and e-mail and we will provide you access to our online Design Thinking lessons using GMAP within 1 working day.
Think of the creative process as starting with a question, not an answer.Tim Brown
Design Thinking as a process has been around since the 1970s, and it has been incredibly effective in solving problems that are ill-defined or unknown. Is it possible to introduce Design Thinking to our participants in a different way? This article will explore how we used Design Thinking to create GMAP – a breakthrough in facilitating Design Thinking.
Since it’s inception, the phases in the process has remained roughly constant:
The tools in each phase of the process have evolved over the years, but one area that has remained largely constant is the use of affinity clustering in the Empathy phase to understand our user better. The output of this phase could look something like this:
This is a great tool for seasoned design thinkers, but also a source of confusion for learners. At Singapore Polytechnic, we teach the concept to many beginners and from our observation, most of them are daunted by the sheer amount of post-its that are stuck up. We also receive many questions in this phase like:
- Why do we need to ask so many ‘Why’s?
- Why do we need so many details about the participant?
- Why do we need to collect data in verbatim?
- Why do we need to dig deeper?
- What do you mean by clustering according to themes? Do you mean grouping by the questions asked?
- What do you mean by Insight and need?
Finding a solution
As design thinkers ourselves, we decided to use Design Thinking to solve the problem. We started to Define the problem in a number of ways using the How Might We technique.
The first problem statement we identified was How Might We explain the concepts better?
With this problem statement in mind, we looked to improve our slides further:
This change produced some marginal gains, but participants continued to struggle. After a number of different rounds, we decided to look at things from a different angle. What if our problem statement was How Might We get participants to start from the NEEDS rather than the data points? This was a radical way to do things as it started with the end in mind.
Named after it’s creator, George Teo, GMAP is a way of getting participants to focus in on the NEEDS before they work on their interviews. The template looks like this:
The template focuses on introducing the outcomes of the empathy phase – i.e. the user’s profile and preferences, key insights and supporting data points for his/her underlying needs in a format that is easy to understand.
Results from using GMAP
We tried it out in a Design Thinking course for first-time users who were also lecturers at an institute of higher learning, and the results amazed us. Some of the qualitative benefits were that:
- Participants no longer asked how many ‘Why’s we need to ask
- They could see the link between the interview and generating the insights and needs
- They are clear about what kind of data they need to collect from the interviewees
The tangible benefits were that:
1. The data maps produced were rich with anecdotes, emotions and stories
At first sight, participants knew that they needed to ask 5 ‘Why’s to every quote, and this allowed them to capture the deep and underlying emotions of their interviewees.
2. The generation of the insight and needs became a breeze
As a by-product of the rich data points, participants were instinctively able to generate the insights and needs without much assistance from the instructors
3. Data about the likes, dislikes and motivations of the interviewees became a focus
Without prodding and reminding, participants keyed in on collecting likes, dislikes and motivations quickly, which allowed the generation of a detailed persona with his/her unique likes and dislikes.
During the course where we tried it out, here’s are some of the outcomes of the empathy phase in that workshop that blew our minds:
In conclusion, GMAP takes the pain and the fear associated with using Design Thinking for the first time. We also see dramatic improvements in the outcomes first-time users of DT are also able to generate for the Empathy and Design phase of the process.
We have designed and put up 6 online lessons about the Empathy and Design phase of Design Thinking, and would love to share them with you.
Simply enter in your name and e-mail below, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will reply with the instructions to access these lessons within 1 working day.
Keen to find out more about Design Thinking? Check out the list of courses we have curated!
Author: Joshua Tan (Design Thinking Consultant at Singapore Polytechnic)