It all comes together: synthesizing our research leads to our compelling story

Team Quarter Hotcakes celebrated Valentine’s Day by meeting up to find our compelling story regarding our project’s concept: Get Your Shit Together.  

We asked our selves two fundamental questions around the “so what” of our project space:

  1. Why should I get my shit together?
  2. What’s the consequence if I don’t?

We used a fishbone diagram to lay out the types of important document-rich incidents and how they range in experience  spanning from “annoying” to “highly inconvenient and expensive” to “catastrophic.”

People are as organized as they need to be “and not an inch more”

From the 18 interviews we conducted, we saw that people’s important documents are as organized as they need to be, “and not an inch more.”

Ironic disparities in preparedness

Levels of preparedness span broadly by individual and by type of documents (identification, medical records, investment statements, etc.)  For example, one man interviewed had renter’s insurance in place when he was robbed twice in one month, but does not yet have a will even though he is a young father.  A fireman/paramedic we interviewed has a will, an advanced directive and has planned his funeral, but none of those documents are in fireproof containers. Another interviewee had a fireproof safe disguised as a dictionary to evade robbers, but inside were personal keepsakes, whereas his passport was in a cigar box on a shelf.

We also found that people have very few phone numbers committed to memory.

We mapped this insight as a 2×2 matrix that extend from Act to Don’t Act, and Don’t Know to Know.

  • Sheeps on Autopilot
    These people act but don’t know why.  In this space people save all their receipts, utility bills and bank statements but they’re not sure why.
  • Sleepers
    Sleepers are characterized by not acting and not knowing.  These people are flying by the seat of their pants and have no plans or organization in place.
  • Shoulds
    These folks don’t act but know they should.  In many interviews as we laid out the landscape of the important documents we’re looking at, we got a lot of, “Yeeeeah, I should get on that…”  One interviewee said “there is always something more fun to do than deal with this stuff.”
  • Savvys
    These people act and know what they’re doing regarding their important documents.  They are appropriately prepared and organized.  For example, a 30 year old single woman has a 401K and is on top of this investment, but she doesn’t have a will since she has next of kin, no dependents and few assets.

Depending on the situation or scenario we brought up in the interview, the same user could be deemed savvy for one topic, and a sleeper for another.

Our goals is to get people into the “savvy” space for the majority of documents and scenarios because…


…because if you address your document’s safety and security, you will have more time to spend on the things in life that matter most.  If you have your shit together, the burden will not fall on loved-ones in case something happens to you.  You would also be setting a good example for your children. You will have a larger sense of empowerment about your life and your future, added security that will ease worry and stress.

Barriers and lack of motivation: If nothing bad happens, organization doesn’t matter

Largely, these topics (death, taxes, filing) are a drag to think about, but there is also a sense of information overload.  People expressed an inability to understand where to start.  Another barrier is that if nothing bad happens, disorganization isn’t a problem.  But if something does happen, and the probability is good that in one’s life something bad will happen, disorganization becomes a “royal pain in the ass” but is rarely catastrophic yet the probability is there.  We plan to explore the probabilities of incidents in a “1 out of X people will have their wallet stolen this year” way that brings these statistics down to the individual level.

Information overload  in certain points of time and space

This visualization tried to capture how we go through life over time (represented by the road disappearing into the horizon) and how we pass through milestones, events and transitions which are information rich, such as getting your first job, applying to college, buying a house, joining finances during marriage.  These information rich points of life are depicted as billboards on the right side of the road.  But along the way, you encounter speed bumps or “incidents” such as getting your wallet stolen or losing a passport.

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