About the project
In 2018, Wave was looking to foster empathy for the user within the organization and refocus the product roadmap on building user centric products and features. This desire kicked off an intensive 2-month initiative where product teams interviewed Wave's primary user—the brave entrepreneur and small business owner across Canada and the U.S.
Observing users, the natural environment and their daily routine is the heart of ethnography. My team and I focused our interviews on understanding the entrepreneur life. We chose to take this approach in order to gain empathy for what and entrepreneur deals with day in and day out. We wanted to know things like what keeps you up at night instead of how you use the Wave software.
My role, process and artifacts
Conduct On-Site and Phone User Interviews → Review 30 hours of Audio Recordings
Organize data → Synthesize for Insights (Themes) → Create Day in a Life Story
Create Empathy Model → Present to the Organization
Types of Questions
1) What made you start your own business?
2) Who are your clients and vendors?
3) Do you hire employees or other workers?
4) What's a day in your business like?
5) What keeps you up at night?
6) Where do you see yourself in 2 years?
7) What enables you to succeed?
At the end of the interviews, we had collected over 30 hours of audio recordings and my next task was review, organize and synthesize this collection of data.
3 themes emerge
Reliance on self vs. Leveraging others
Small business owners feel solely responsible for the work they do in their business. There's a large reluctance to give up that control to others, out of an anxiety that the business's reputation at an early stage is fragile.
Understanding how my business works & assessing change
Business owners get their confidence from seeing success within their business, but when their books are fuzzy, so is their strategy. They need to see what's working well for them, and what isn't in order to figure out what to change, improve or keep doing.
Focus in the now
vs. Exploring opportunities
The life of an entrepreneur is mostly chaotic. While staying on top of day to day tasks pay the bills, businesses also have the pressure of staying relevant with market shifts and seizing opportunities that come from networking, engaging, learning, and experimenting.
The Empathy Model
The model captures the main themes above and shows how they are interconnected.
How this model was used
My team and I presented this empathy model to the organization to enable everyone to have a mental model of the key themes. Our goal was to encourage product teams to keep these themes in mind while thinking about new features, improvements and opportunities for 2018.