Bias Towards Action

Jen, Laura, and I have spent the last three months researching how impostor phenomenon impacts life trajectories and then ideating on ways to combat feelings of impostorism. We are now pushing forward a few design ideas that came out of our research to develop potential solutions within this space. 

Here is a high-level overview of the design concepts we are currently exploring:

  • DESTRUCTION BOX: Self-care, self-reflection, and stress relief, all tied up in one monthly box. Instead of nurturing, pampering, or creation, subscribers are encouraged to express anger, rage, and destruction by symbolically destroying feelings of impostorism.
  • JVL CONSULTANCY: A human-centered design firm providing company leadership with actionable solutions and recommendations to help hire, retain, and promote top talent while moving toward a more balanced and inclusive workplace.
  • ATX FAIL CLUB: A safe space to share your stories of failure and impostorism in your life. Curating dinner parties and storytelling events for women-identifying people to come together and celebrate stories of failure.

In order to best understand how these initiatives could provide value (to subscribers, attendees, and clients), we are currently in the phase of interviewing and testing these design ideas with prospective users. To do that, we must embrace a bias towards action. We recognize that it’s easier to offer feedback on something that already exists, so this week we:

  • Interviewed ten people (on some or all concepts)
  • Drafted a prototype online listing for the Destruction Box
  • Created a website for the JVL Consultancy
  • Launched ATX Fail Club (more details below!)

In this post, we’ll share what we’ve learned so far about each concept, and then we invite you to reach out and share your thoughts on these prospective businesses.

Destruction Box

This product is for people who are feeling stressed, burnt out, or are having feelings of self-doubt. Our solution, Destruction Box, will provide an outlet for acknowledging, reflecting on, and symbolically destroying these feelings. This subscription box allows users to physically destroy objects that symbolically represent their impostorism. Unlike other self-care subscription boxes that promote nurturing, pampering, and creation, our solution encourages women to express anger, rage, and destruction.

What we tested:

We began the week prepared to test a few hypotheses with prospective users. First and foremost, we wanted to explore how the concept of symbolic destruction resonated with people. Would they see it as both familiar and impactful? We were also curious about the logistics of the subscription box like whether or not users would be inclined to purchase the box for others as a gift and at what price point they would value this solution.

What we learned:

Our user interviews offered insight into the above hypotheses and also provided new angles to explore this concept. We learned that our interviewees had symbolically destroyed items in the past and they did find the experience surprisingly impactful. Users also opined that the Destruction Box would make a fun gift for friends or family members. We also heard interest in participating in this sort of activity in a group setting. One interviewee pointed out that if other people are destroying something, then “you feel entitled to destroy it as well”.

Interviewee experiences prototype destruction box
An interviewee experiences the prototype Destruction Box and exclaims “This is like Christmas and the Fourth of July! Something like this should definitely exist… you’re on to something.”

What’s next:

In the upcoming week, we will further dig into the interest in and hesitations around this business idea. We want to better understand the allure of “group destruction” and how it might fit into this design concept. We will also be fleshing out our draft Cratejoy listing and doing more “think aloud” interviews to invite feedback on how prospective users might interpret the concept when they stumble across the product online. Finally, we’ll be prototyping additional destruction activities… your brainstorms are always welcome

JVL Consultancy:

This service design solution is for companies who experience gender inequities or have trouble building/retaining a diverse workplace. Through human-centered research and design, JVL Consultancy provides company leadership with actionable solutions and recommendations to help them hire, retain, and promote top talent while moving toward a more balanced and inclusive workplace. Unlike employee surveys or checklists, our solution focuses on service design approaches and is customized to each client workplace.

What we tested:

During last week’s interviews, we heard that — while this concept sounds wonderful in theory — it will be crucial to have top-down buy-in in order to effect actual change with this business. This week we wanted to validate that feedback by interviewing HR professionals to explore how best to secure top-down support for this concept. We also generally wanted to continue to invite feedback on whether or not employees would find this relevant to their workplaces and how this consultancy could maximize value to both employers and employees.

What we learned:

Our hypothesis that top-down support is vital was validated during this week’s conversations. We heard the feedback that in order to “sell” this consultancy to prospective clients, it will be important to be able to show the return on investment (ROI) for investing in this sort of work. One of our interviewees, an HR leader with over a decade of experience, ideated with us on how this solution could decrease employee turnover at companies.

One interviewee reflected back on one of his earlier positions and said that impostorism was a leading cause of his decision to leave the company. He said, “People are always looking for belonging… and that’s hard when people don’t look like you, talk like you, or think like you.” JVL Consultancy could help companies to be more inclusive thereby decreasing feelings of impostorism, increasing employee retention, and saving the business money in the long run.

User interview
One interviewee reflecting on how impostorism influenced his decision to resign from a past employer: “People are always looking for belonging… and that’s hard when people don’t look like you, talk like you, or think like you.”

What’s next:

In the upcoming week, we will continue to meet with prospective clients (both business owners and HR professionals) to do “think aloud” testing with our website and explore what kind of value this consultancy could provide to the client. We will also brainstorm specific companies to approach with project proposals… stay tuned for more on that front in next week’s update!

ATX Fail Club

People feel shame and guilt about their failures, and internalizing these feelings can have mental health impacts and negative consequences on life and career trajectories. The ATX Fail Club offers a safe space for attendees to share their stories of failure and feelings of impostorism in their lives, whether at an intimate small-group dinner or on stage at a public storytelling event.

What we tested:

The best way to test a concept is to go ahead and prototype it… so last night we went ahead and hosted our first ATX Fail Club dinner event! On Monday morning, we sent out an email to invite all AC4D alumnae to join us for dinner on Friday evening. First and foremost, we wanted to find out if people would RSVP and show up for this sort of event. We also wanted to test whether or not attendees would be open to sharing their stories of failure, and to do this we needed to get folks to the table.

Photos from ATX Fail Club dinner
Inaugural ATX Fail Club Dinner: Friday, February 8, 2019, at Austin Center for Design

What we learned:

From our test group of approximately 30 female alumnae, we had five alumnae who responded to express interest but who were unavailable on Friday evening and one alum who RSVPed that she could make it. And what did we learn during the event itself? Too much to share in one short blog post! But at a high-level, we heard that this concept has meat to it and we are thrilled to continue testing. 

What’s next:

We will follow up with our dinner attendees to share photos and invite additional feedback on the event and concept. We are also currently seeking sponsors as we plan the next ATX Fail Club dinner — shoot us an email if you or your company would be interested in sponsoring either by providing food, alcohol, or financial support. Or, are you just generally interested in this design concept and want to stay in the loop as we move forward? Visit our website to learn more and sign up for our email list to receive future event invites!

ATX Fail Club website
Visit the ATX Fail Club website to learn more about sponsorship opportunities and upcoming events!