Festival-photo of billy kart race

Step 2: Immerse in the stakeholders’ environment

This ‘immersion’ stage is central to the Design Thinking process. It’s about understanding the people we are designing for, and getting to grips with the problem (or problems) to be addressed. As mentioned during the investigate phase, the Wellbeing Trail project includes various stakeholders, not just the end users of the design solution. I talked to potential trail users as well as people from organisations providing activities at stops in the trail. 

Prototyping the problem

Before talking to stakeholders in any detail, I looked at the stated problem of improving peoples’ wellbeing to see if I could pin it down a little more. I found the easiest way to do this was to pose a number of “how might we” (HMW) questions.

How might we…

  • …inspire people to improve their health and wellbeing?
  • …make health and fitness seem enjoyable rather than a chore?
  • …make the wellbeing trail a fun experience?
  • …encourage people to take responsibility for their own wellbeing?
  • …turn negative concepts (like exercise) into positive ones?
  • …use technology to get people outside, exploring and talking more?
  • …help parents set a good example to their kids to see the value of wellbeing?
  • … make wellbeing part of everyday life?

These questions would be useful when talking to stakeholders, acting as a prompt to help people think about which issues were important and how they might be addressed.

From the HMW questions I developed a draft problem statement:

People generally want to improve or maintain personal wellbeing, but they find it difficult to build it into their everyday lives and don’t prioritise it or see it as an enjoyable activity.

I knew this may not be the final problem statement, but it was a good place to start. I could refine the problem statement after talking to stakeholders, so the HMW questions and draft problem statement were effectively a form of prototype.

Prototyping a persona

I developed a draft persona for someone who would be a potential user of the trail. This was based on someone I know, with details adjusted to stay anonymous. The persona represents a man who wants to set a good example for his two children, but has difficulty finding activities they will enjoy. I knew the target users for the wellbeing trail were predominantly families with school age children, as well as single parents, aunts/uncles of young children, and grandparents.

The intention was for the persona to act as a discussion prompt at a meeting of trail activity providers, so they could think about how they may be able to help this person and his specific needs. Unfortunately I was not able to attend that meeting, so I used the persona as a reminder when talking to individual activity providers, then checked it against results from stakeholder research.

Draft persona – click to see PDF version

Interviewing stakeholders

I interviewed four stakeholders – my client at Samford Commons, plus three providers of trail activities, one of whom was a mother of young children who also represented a target trail user.

I asked them a range of questions, including:

  • what do you understand by the term ‘wellbeing’?
  • how would you describe the benefits of wellbeing to someone new?
  • in your experience, what obstacles are there to people improving their wellbeing?
  • what do you hope to achieve from the Wellbeing Trail?
  • what are you offering trail users on the day?
  • how might we make wellbeing more fun/enjoyable?
  • do you use technology to support wellbeing activities or services?
  • how might we help people make wellbeing part of their everyday life?
  • (plus other ‘how might we’ questions)

Research data

The research yielded a lot of useful quotes and data, as well as giving the providers some ideas to feed into their plans for Trail activities. Here is a summary of notes from interviews with stakeholders:

  • The consensus was that ‘Wellbeing’ is an overall, holistic view of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social state.
  • The main target audience for trail activities is families, particularly those with teenage children. As younger children can’t take personal responsibility (e.g. sign up for the gym) their parents are the ones who set the example.
  • The sort of people who attend a wellbeing event are likely to already be partially on their journey to improving fitness or wellbeing
  • Any goals people set regarding their wellbeing have to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely).
  • People often join fitness groups or other health-related activities because of the social interaction.
  • Consistent behaviour and commitment is key to improving and sustaining wellbeing.
  • Many people are driven by a sense of achievement, particularly in relation to fitness – reaching or exceeding goals, feeling better about themselves, getting a rush of endorphins, beating their own or others’ results.
  • The first question the fitness club will ask a new client is “what brought you here?”. The answer to this will form the basis of that person’s plan to achieve their goals. If they lose sight of these and drop off the radar for a bit, they will receive a gentle nudge reminding them of their goals.
  • Goals are not always about losing weight or getting fitter. They could relate to changing a person’s lifestyle, improving quality of life, socialising more, building strength, eating healthier, appealing to the opposite sex, reducing addictive behaviours, boosting self esteem or many other objectives.
  • Building rapport with the community is an important aim of wellbeing providers.
  • The Samford Museum is part of the Wellbeing trail, but the connection is not obvious. It needs to tell stories that people can relate to, comparing life and wellbeing in the past with current experiences. The museum has a strong connection to the ‘Samford 100’ celebrations due to its historical nature. The display will include videos from survivors of the 1940s train crash, where a group of people set out to have a picnic in Samford but never made it due to a derailment when a number of people died. The train line was closed a few years later, in 1955.  The ‘Big Picnic’ to be held in the park at the end of the Wellbeing Trail is a recognition of the ‘picnic that never was’.
  • Families thinking of attending will need to know exactly what is on when and where in the Trail, so they can decide whether to bring younger children, who may get bored or need to sleep at certain times. Those with very young children tend to avoid activities in the middle of the day, as lunchtime is for naps. One mother of four said 9am–noon and 2–4pm are the best times, and it is unlikely they would do the whole Trail because the younger kids’ attention would not last more than a couple of hours.
  • People want to know whether the event is free, and if there will be goodies or giveaways.
  • To entice kids out of the house, activities need to be fun and appealing, with some sort of novelty value – “something you don’t do every day”. If an event is surprising or unexpected in some way, it is more likely to appeal to families who get tired of doing the same old things (like playing in the park, going for a walk, etc).

Next > Step 3: Ideate to innovate

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