When we were younger, the lunchbox decision matrix included your favorite movie or cartoon, a trip to Walmart, and finding one to match your Trapper Keeper.
As adults, we have a lot more to think about when choosing our lunchboxes. Do we want:
- Sections for meal prep
- Ability to keep food cold
- Our favorite movie or meme design?
Earlier this year, I needed to train our marketing team on Design Thinking. Stanford University has a Design Thinking program and one of their most noted exercises is creating your customer’s wallet. It’s a great example to use . . . in 1997.
Most of us today only carry an ID or we use an iPhone case to hold our ID and credit card. Our marketing team had previously discussed design thinking and watched some fun sketch videos on YouTube, but we never really applied the process. For this exercise I did the following:
- Paired them into groups of two
- Assigned one person as the customer and one as the marketer
- Gave time limits for each section.
As a marketer and a product owner, it’s easy to hear a problem and then quickly jump to brainstorm solutions. Design thinking forces us to slow down and truly understand and empathize with the customer. For this exercise, the marketing team’s goal was to design the best lunchbox for their customer.
Empathize: The marketer should spend 15 minutes trying to understand your customer. What is their lunch time like? What do they like to eat? What kind of food do they typically eat at lunch?
Define the Problem: The marketer should spend 15 minutes trying to learn about the problem. When did it start? What doesn’t work in their current lunchbox if they have? What features would they like to see in a lunchbox?
Ideate. Brainstorm some ideas together that you think would solve some of their needs. This should only be done after the 30 minutes have been spent in the empathy and define the problem phases. Consultation with the customer can and should be used. They were given 10 minutes in this phase.
Prototype: Each marketer was provided with paper, cardboard, tape and other arts/crafts supplies to build a prototype of their lunchbox. Once they had a rough prototype, they would go back to their customer and ask for feedback. Did this solve some of their lunchbox problems? Why or why not? They had 10 minutes for this phase.
Test: In this stage, the marketer is ready to test his lunchbox with his customer. For our team, this was done in a presentation mode so everyone could see the steps they both went through. The marketing team could also ask questions about the process and if the lunchbox met the customer’s expectations.
By following the steps in the timed format, marketers were forced to take their time to truly understand the customer and empathize with their problem to help deliver a better product to the customer.