How a Product Manager Used Insights to Create a Better App
Isabela is surfacing insights to create better products for older adults.
IDEO U COURSE COMPLETED: Insights for Innovation
“We have two goals—to help seniors fight isolation and allow them to be more independent.”
Could you tell us about yourself?
I'm a product manager for Wellzesta, a company that develops software and apps for seniors who live in senior living communities. We have two goals—to help seniors fight isolation and allow them to be more independent.
As an example, we have one feature that was built to help seniors in these communities schedule events. Years ago, when they would do events like ice cream socials, seniors would have to go to the administration to make reservations. Now, they have an app that they can access from anywhere and can choose events to attend, whether virtually or in person. It also lets them interact with each other and their community.
There are so many technologies coming out for the seniors, because they will be most of the population in a few years. And they will be much more tech savvy than they are today, so we need to be prepared for their needs.
“Seniors will be most of the population in a few years…so we need to be prepared for their needs.”
Why did you decide to take IDEO U courses?
I used to be the head of marketing at a small startup. I saw a video of IDEO doing a brainstorm session, where people were creating a shopping cart. After seeing it, I was like, “I can’t believe that someone could take creativity and put it into such a cool framework. This is so me, so Isabela—I need to do this.”
What did you learn from Insights for Innovation?
The first part of design thinking is observation. And in the first lesson, I did it wrong and had to do it again, because I was full of bias. Through the course, I learned how to identify my bias, then look again at the problem and the user’s needs. It’s usual for the market to jump to a solution, but the solution is the last step.
So before you get to a solution, put down your bias and really dig into the problem. To this day, the most difficult thing to do is to convince people that doing this is the key to success. If we are able to do this, we will be better human beings and professionals.
Also, collecting insights is so important for me as a product manager when creating new products and features. There aren't a lot of studies on usability for seniors, and I’m making an effort to get to know the seniors we work with better. I’m trying to get more information and insights from seniors.
What impact did the course have on your career?
For me, the course was a career changer. It changed everything for my career, and it still does.
Insights for Innovation took me where I am today. What I learned became my way of thinking. I was like, “We need to do this—putting our users at the center—for everything, every problem that we have.” I started a couple of projects at my former company and was able to learn a lot. Eventually, I got an offer from my current company.
“For me, the course was a career changer. It changed everything for my career, and it still does.”
What was your favorite part of the course?
Meeting new people through the Community Conversations. I made three good friends, and we still meet every single week on Wednesdays to discuss design thinking and use it to solve a problem that we have. It's been almost a year now.
They’ve given me a lot of insights and have really helped me in my career. I was having this problem of figuring out how I could learn more about North American seniors. We were brainstorming and putting up post-its, and then we got to this idea of me taking English classes with senior teachers. Now I’m improving my English, while also getting to know seniors and how they think.
“I made three good friends, and we still meet every single week on Wednesdays to discuss design thinking and use it to solve a problem that we have. It's been almost a year now.”
What advice would you give other learners?
I would say to get involved in the Community Conversations with other learners. And use the resources and mentors that IDEO gives, because they really are amazing. Even if you’re a little shy, they are ready to help you. IDEO has a good philosophy—that everyone's there to learn, so don't be ashamed of having questions or assumptions. It's a really safe place to improve, so just go for it and dive into the course. It will be really good for you as a person.
What’s next for you?
I want to learn more about tech and to grow my career in product management. I feel a sense of purpose at my company and want to continue learning.
Learn more about Isabela’s company Wellzesta, check out more stories from our IDEO U learner community, and learn how to surface user insights to create human-centered solutions in our online course Insights for Innovation.
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