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Saturday, April 5, 2014

A user centric approach to finding opportunities for design and for business - Deepankar Bhattacharyya

Start-ups commonly generate and develop an idea from their own point of view. They do not think from the consumer's point of view and often land up with an idea and business plan that does not create value or enhance the experience of the consumer. This can result in the prospective consumer not buying into the idea; with catastrophic consequences for the fledgling start-up. 

This paper outlines a methodology that I use in a workshop to find opportunities that address this issue either at the very start when opportunities are being explored or at a later stage when a promising idea requires validation. 

One can begin by mapping one's area of interest in broad systemic terms. Design methods show us how to do this visually and are explored as part of the workshop. In this example let us take a hospital or health care system.  

1. Map the components of the system - would include broad areas of administration, personnel, skill sets, equipment, physical spaces, buildings, statutory regulations etc. These will, further, have subsystems from the macro to the micro until one gets the component system map of a hospital that the end user accesses for her/his health care needs. This will include everything from parking, reception, various out-patient departments, emergency and trauma care to operation theatres, doctors and nursing to drug delivery and billing.

2. Map the relationships between the components - It is understood that all the components have some relationship with one another to be considered a part of the system. A relationship map will make visible the various connections and processes that are inherent in the system and which makes the system work. 

3. Map the processes and tasks that make the system functional - and enable the system to deliver on its objectives. This also makes visible the various interfaces between the system and its users whether they be the patients, doctors, nurses, administrators or utility personnel. 

4. Map user journey through the system - All stakeholders negotiate the system in different ways. In our example let us examine this from the patient's point of view. S/He parks a vehicle/enters the premises, goes to the reception and fills out his/her details and is directed to a department or doctor where s/he waits for a consultation. This may take the patient to other departments for tests and reports which may further lead to hospitalisation or out-patient treatment. S/He may also in case of emergency, be taken directly to the emergency or trauma centre.  

What happens to the user at each interface or point of interaction can be mapped and feedback loops made visible. The patient, in this case, has to follow a path through the system that is determined by the outcomes of her interaction at each point of interface. These can be mapped in terms of yes, no or maybe responses and form the basis of the quality of her journey. 

The doctor experiences the system quite differently as does the nurse or the administrator. 

Understanding the quality of the user experience in her journey through the system is vital to our understanding of the quality of the services that the system offers. 

People from different backgrounds in terms of education and socio-economic access, of all ages and at various stages of distress will have different needs and expectations. We need to know what they are and we need to address them. 

Listen to users as they journey through a particular system. Listen to the user articulate what they expect at each stage and their views on making the experience better. 

Do they feel welcome? 
Have the staff been attentive? 
Was the process of admission or billing too tedious? 
Was the wait for the doctor comfortable? 
Was the journey to the concerned department easily negotiated? 
Were they happy with their surroundings? 
Was the level of hygiene and cleanliness satisfactory?
Did the level of care inspire confidence?

5. User feedback will tell us where the problems are. 
Problem areas are opportunities to improve quality of service and add value.
Value that can be delivered by a business or design idea. 

Every interface between the user and the system harbours an opportunity. 
An opportunity to address a desire or a need that the user feels will enhance her/his experience

Business ideas can revolve around a product, a sub-system, a service but they must add value to the consumer if they are to succeed. And they must be sustainable within the community that is their ecosystem. 

Map the systems in your community or any area that interests you. Derive your idea from a felt need within the system or place your idea within the said system and evaluate it's efficacy. 

Does your business idea deliver value? 
Does it enhance user experience? 
Will the user buy into your idea? Why?

Deepankar Bhattacharyya conducts workshops for entrepreneurs and designers on using design thinking to find and map opportunities.
contact: deepankar(dot) 

1 comment:

  1. Great framework, Deepankar. I just finished helping a team at DLabs Hyderabad conduct a workshop with Engineering faculty, and the 'empathy' i.e. experiencing a situation from various actors perspective was a runaway success - as always. I've asked them to get in touch with you as they are recruiting 'mentors' to help them with such workshops.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.