An update after some shifting and zooming from biased perspectives: our process, our finding, and our plan

Photo credit: by Alex Pappas, at Art From the Streets, on Jan 25 2011

When we were two weeks into our research on homelessness last quarter, it began to occur to us that the Maslow hierarchy might be in the wrong shape. Our hypothesis was that people need their emotional needs fulfilled at the same time as their physical needs, rather than after. That led to one of our major themes in the final research presentation: people don’t just need help, they need to help.

We hung onto that idea and kept exploring. Three months after our project kick-off, here’s where we are at:

We believe that when people are given an opportunity to share their knowledge and teach other people, they are actually helping themselves by gaining a stronger sense of self and increasing self-esteem. We don’t have data that is of statistical significance to support this view. However, it is a view that is built directly upon our personal stories, experiences, and world-views. We know to be conscious about the biased perspective and continue to seek feedback from various individuals in the design, business, and technology space. So far, everyone seems to share the same sentiment.

Our 5-hour working sessions typically involve constantly asking ourselves “what if” and “what would make it really fun“. For example, we talked about what ARCH would look like as a co-working space, where clients are encouraged to host sessions like at an unconference. We also think our belief holds true whether it’s for the homeless, retired professors, vulnerable teens, or stay-at-home moms. The continuous lens shifting has become our most powerful tool to cross chasms and connect ideas that are seemingly unrelated in order to formulate new design ideas.

We’ve also committed ourselves to making a physical artifact after every working session: “If it isn’t modeled, written, drawn, and otherwise solidified in an artifact, it never happened.” Concept mapping out our envisioned ecosystem and customer journey map helped us in clarifying what we want to do. More importantly though, it helped us in identifying what our Theory of Change is: When a person begins to see him/herself as a teacher rather than a student, we believe that’s when change happens.

We start building and testing this week. So one good thing to keep remembering: Trust the Process.