Foolproof: Home of the Sh!tstorm

By Tom Wood @Foolproofer

Design workshops come in lots of different shapes and sizes. One of our favourite formats is the Pain Points workshop – affectionately known in-house as a Sh!tstorm.

The approach is to draw on extant research, customer service logs and the experience of the people in the room to generate a very long list of everything that is wrong with the current digital delivery of the product or service. In stark contrast with workshops which require people to generate clever, innovative and constructive new ideas this approach is a blast: you’ve never seen a wall fill up with Post-Its so quickly.

But then, by clustering these negative observations into related groups, it’s possible to see important themes emerge. By flipping the negative to the positive the team can then go on to create meaningful design principles to guide the project forward into a more creative phase.

It seems counterintuitive that a creative process can start by focusing exclusively on the negative. Yet some of our biggest and most imaginative design breakthroughs have come by doing exactly that. We’ve recently used this with one of the UK’s largest insurers to re-think their quote-and-buy process and left them with a very big bank of ideas to help them focus on the digital issues that customers really want them to address.

Come on: let a little negativity into your project!

Tom Wood

I’m one of the two founders of Foolproof. Within projects I usually take a role both in planning our approach and in the generative phases of design. I’m also active in gathering client and customer needs into the design space. My particular talent is helping senior stakeholders see and understand the customer’s world in richer detail, and helping them work out how to respond.

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