Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Parenting with Design Thinking

Urkel dancing nerdily.
This morning I wrote up a retrospective based on our latest iteration of the "Boys Overnight Stay at Grandma's and Grandpa's House for Mom's Birthday Verson 1.0". I talked to everyone involved and considered their perspective on the general failure, itemized the realizations and emailed my findings to all the users and stakeholders which included: mom, dad, both sons, and both grandparents.

What I realized is that design thinking could have really been instrumental in creating a great experience for everyone. The process would have looked something like this:

Stakeholder Mapping
Establish the list of stakeholders and understand their feelings. Knowing how Grandma and Grandpa feel about the kids staying overnight would help to create the best experience for them possible. For instance, if they had known that Youngest (7) acted like a teenager in the morning - basically unresponsive for 30 minutes - then they could have planned accordingly and not have been so shocked by the behavior. Instead, they called Boys' Parents at 7am, exasperated and hopeless, setting in motion a major crisis.

Journey Maps
Prior to the overnight stay, if we had considered the pain points in the experience in the past and how we can mitigate them, we would have realized that bedtime has always been the hardest part. Instead, Jurassic Park went on right before bed and after lights-out, Oldest (12) clicked his retainer endlessly which kept Youngest awake. Youngest frustratedly screamed at Oldest and the real Oldest (Grandpa) had to step in.

Empathy Maps
Last week would have been a great time to map empathy for each person involved in the release of the Overnight Stay. None of us knew that Youngest had bouts of homesickness. We also could have seen that Grandpa felt like he wanted to make their evening special by telling a very, very (very) long story after lights-out time. Knowing beforehand that Mom wanted to sleep in and chill out on her birthday would have helped everyone handle the situation differently.

Imagine if we had all talked about the coolest experience everyone could have had during the overnight stay and then scaled back to a realistic model. We just set out by the seat of our pants and developed this thing in an agile manner without any design at all. Ice cream is great, but right before bed during a scary movie that created nightmares? Grandma would have had more to work on than just pure desire to please the Boys. The mornings are hard, but what rewards could we have put in place to make that smoother and more fun?

"Okay, let's go over how the overnight stay should look." Yeah, why weren't those words spoken? Because we just winged it. Was it worth it? Not in the least. In fact, the release of the Overnight Stay was more negative than positive. We almost lost our stakeholders completely and, trust me, we need them. With a simple prototype, even on paper, of the way the entire stay should have gone, we would have been guaranteed a much better outcome. Perhaps if Oldest had seen a prototype of himself as a camp counselor the next day he would not have accidentally worn Youngest's shorts and ended up looking like Urkel (Mom took a look at him and forced him to change).

The retrospective was appreciated by the whole team and there was little disagreement. Hopefully, we can make sure we plan to have a design sprint before we begin execution next time and we learn from our mistakes this time around. But first I need to pick them up from camp. Be right back.


  1. Super cute analogy. Whether it's your job or your children, especially where grandparents are involved, planning seems to be key. I'm glad you were able to take something positive away from this otherwise unfortunate situation. Happy birthday to your wife!

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment. The analogy hit me like a rock when I wrote "retrospective" on the top of the email to my parents. Nerdy, but funny.