Purpose is a way of framing how you look at something that brings so much more clarity of perception. When I say, “purpose,” I mean what a person is trying to accomplish, not what your team wants to know or what your org hopes to achieve within the year. It’s what the people you are trying to help are trying to plan or decide or do, the thing they hope to achieve or make progress on, without restriction to your org or its solutions.

An organization’s purpose is a very different perspective than a person’s/people’s purpose.

For example, a purpose might be “get my life back to the way it was before…


Help more humans feel heard and supported

With the pressure of the pandemic and quarantine, it has become increasingly clear just how globally bias, discrimination, and systemic racism are rooted in our lives. People do not have equal access to services, online learning, clean air and water, and justice. From governments to societies, business to technology, we who help design solutions are making decisions quickly, blindly, and dangerously. Those decisions affect people in real, often harmful, ways.

So many books and papers give evidence to this.¹

One powerful example of systemic bias built into a digital product is the recent…


what does non-hierarchical collaboration look like?

Here is a story that demonstrates two things. First, it is a story about organizing a project for a specific group of people, and realizing that group is more than just a demographic. Second, it is a story about successfully designed teaching — albeit dependent upon those teachers for its success.

Last weekend (May 2016) I drove to visit my parents in the next state over. They’re incredibly active people who impress the hell out of everyone with their energy at the ages of 86 and 75. Dad builds airplanes as a hobby (you…


A webinar for Waggl Thought Leadership

View from Rainbow Tunnel

This webinar builds awareness of cognitive bias when it comes to being “data-driven,” and clarifies the differences between the problem space and the solution space. I introduce mental model diagrams, behavioral audience segments (thinking styles), and show how these artifacts (which are created and updated in the problem space) act to power your solution space idea & design generation. Waggl is a service company that has created a platform to crowd source employee feedback and align on action. Webinar: Generating Focused Ideas Through Practical Empathy (43 minutes. My section begins at 4:00 and ends…


This is what I mean by empathy. I tried thinking like Daren would think.

At at recent workshop, I conducted a spontaneous listening session as a demonstration of what I mean by “create a scope perimeter within which any conversation can happen.” I asked for a volunteer and for a topic. The volunteer was Daren. The topic was air travel. I scoped the topic down to “planning and booking air travel” just to have a good place to start, and also added “handling the day of travel.” …


Building awareness of cognitive bias, and solving for it with thinking styles and problem space research

Webinar: Generating Focused Ideas Through Practical Empathy (43 minutes. Indi’s section begins at 4:00 and ends at 46:45.) Transcript below.

This webinar builds awareness of cognitive bias when it comes to being “data-driven,” and clarifies the differences between the problem space and the solution space. I introduce mental model diagrams, behavioral audience segments (thinking styles), and show how these artifacts (which are created and updated in the problem space) act to power your solution space idea & design generation.


Time travel with me back to 2003, and discover the through-line.

Don’t call them “meetings.” One of the most effective ways to get through a research project together is to make each session together a working session. Aim for no homework. Get stuff done during the time you are with each other.

Note: This post was written before cloud software and Zoom. Please substitute modern software 5 and 6 below. This post was originally published at Adaptive Path.

Eight weeks ago I broke my leg while running. After five days in the hospital, surgery, a titanium rod, and several painkillers…


About those “well meaning” notifications …

There’s a million apps that want to help you plan your time better, get fit, lose weight, pick up your kids, and remember to order the groceries. These apps all propose to make your life a little better. But the communications you hear and see from these apps contain mixed messages.

This morning I got a message from my Android phone saying that it would like to help me know in advance about traffic on my commute. My commute is a walking commute and takes about 10 seconds, because my house is small. Supposedly…


Questions I often hear during workshops that I teach

newsletter #17 | 18-Oct-2016

I’ve taught a few workshops on problem-space research, listening sessions, and developing & applying empathy lately. These workshops always have room for Q&A and discussion, and the brilliance and depth of the topics always impresses me. I thought I’d pass some of them along.

Tips for persuading colleagues/boss to pursue problem-space research: If you’re in a tough situation trying to get people to understand the value of problem-space research, prepare a tiny set of sample towers. Put things in these towers that you’ve collected anecdotally over the…


use a person’s purpose to frame problem space studies

newsletter #5 | 16-Feb-2016

I just returned from the ConveyUX conference in Seattle where I gave a presentation and offered a little Q&A for attendees during the breaks. I got a few questions about how to set up a study in the problem space. Coming from careers in the solution space, doing generative or evaluative studies, it was hard for people to re-orient to framing a problem space study.

I use a person’s purpose to frame problem space studies.

Framing for Time Tracking

Here is an example using one of the situations I heard from…

Indi Young

Freelance problem space researcher helping digital clients find opportunities to support diversity; author & speaker; www.indiyoung.com; cofounder Adaptive Path

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