Why we spent a week on designing a couple-centered problem solving system for COVID

We’ve been through wonderful highs and difficult lows — family losses, major medical issues, job losses, financial distress. You may find that list to be familiar in today’s COVID environment — fears about losing a loved one, getting sick, losing a job and not being able to pay bills are top of mind for people around the world. Our marriage has thrived over the years despite big challenges because we’ve been intentional in tackling them together, often using the techniques that we employ at work.

So we think our design-thinking methods will be helpful to others facing big challenges now. Because COVID isn’t just about being confided together under lockdown, it’s about fear and uncertainty and the world changing. It’s about our individual needs changing. So the support that couples gave each other, techniques developed over many years and up until only a month ago, might simply not work anymore.

Time for a rethink.

Enter human-centered design, which we think is one of the best ways to solve problems by collaborating together.

For those of you who have used design thinking tools or practice Human-Centered Design yourself, many of the principles will be familiar. But many will not because we have customized the standard process to recognize that there is not one unique, overarching user need — there are actually two individual needs nested in one. Solving for two-as-one is a unique design challenge that hasn’t been tackled, as far as we can tell.

We have customized the process to be SEXY. Yes, that’s right. 

  • S:     Specific, aka the new Discover
  • E:     Empathetic, aka the new Define
  • X:     Existential, aka the new Develop
  • Y:     You, not me, aka the new Deliver

Developing this process—including testing it—took us week of hard work. But we think it’s been worth it. We enjoyed having another project where we could innovate on the process itself. We always enjoy bringing in other people’s experiences and the knowledge of the experts. And, of course, we discovered things about ourselves as individuals and as a couple. We were also able to bring in work from AI design too—the vital ingredients in any intelligent system: personal agency, autonomy and choice.

Download the resources here.

And please join our Facebook group to share experiences with the SEXY community. 

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