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Bridge: Start the Conversation App (UPDATED 8/2/2016)

Our educational app helps people understand end-of-life options by encouraging thought and conversation across generations.

Photo of Alex Molloy

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

There are 76.4 million baby boomers, but millennials (1982+) have already overtaken them in size. Both baby boomers (parents) and millennials (children) are at point where we need to start having these conversations, and our app is designed to bridge and catalyze this tough conversation. By first introducing it through tech-savvy millennials, BRIGE connects these two groups by creating a educational touchpoint to open dialogue in a meaningful way. (Updated 8/2/2016)

"Planning my death might help me better live my life." (Baby boomer)

Our app is meant to help digitally-savvy healthy millennials (1982+) learn and plan for end-of-life in the United States, and in doing so, bridge the conversation with their aging loved ones. The app consists of interactive quizzes that employ different levels of intimacy in end-of-life (EOL) questions to target the needs of different user types.

The purpose of the app is to:

  1. Take the user deeper into the topic, getting them to think about how they might prepare for their own end-of-life care and/or a loved one’s. 
  2. Encourage the user to share the results in order to continue the conversation offline with loved ones. (and acquire new users for product)
  3.     Give the users an action plan in order to help them know how to take this conversations to experts that can help them enact their wishes.  


LEVELS

We included levels around intimacy of questions (light, medium and heavy) in order to bring users further into the application and ease them into the conversation.   

The light level acts much like a Buzzfeed quiz—something that you might want to share on your Facebook wall with friends and invite them to take in order to share results. We imagine the subject matter to be interesting facts and anecdotes of death, end-of-life that are historical or contemporary. Light and fun information that eases them into the process without tackling the heavy questions right off the bat.  

The medium level is more personal, and the topic is slightly more serious. In this series of questions, the user inputs what they perceive they might want their end-of-life care/wishes to be. At the end, the user is encouraged to email their list to friends and/or family in order to ask them to do it themselves and compare their results.

The heavy level is the most serious in that it asks the user what they might do if they had to see to the end-of-life care of a loved one. The end result of this quiz is a checklist with recommendations for an action plan. The list even may include local experts or digital resources that they might want to continue studying.

USER TYPES

Our two main user demographics are:

The Millennial (1985+)

Persona 1

The Baby Boomer

Persona 2












36 QUESTIONS

Overall, we imagine the idea of the questions to have the same virability, interactivity and intimacy as the popular Modern Love column from 2015

The article described a study from 20 years ago in which a psychologist posited that if two strangers sat across from each other, looked deeply into each other’s eyes, and were open to the possibility of falling in love, then a series of 36 questions might bring them together. The questions got progressively more intimate, and over the course of the beginning of 2015, the questions generated a lot of attention. People shared it on Facebook. Online daters used the questions on first dates. Even today, it’s recognizable. Basically, just like the article is titled “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” our app will pivot that idea into “To Take Care of Any Loved One, Do This.”


INTERVIEWS AND FINDINGS (Phase 3)

We conducted interviews with millennials and baby boomers  to test key assumptions and came up with some interesting findings that we would use to hone in our product questions, app feeling/mood, next step functionality and overall design. Here are some general conclusions:

1. People have a hard time talking about end of life care and death. It’s a very sensitive topic, though the sensitivity varies according to country, religion and age.  We also found in some families,  parents and grandparents don’t even bring this topic up because they feel they should shield the children from this.

  • Take home: This indicates that there is a need for a intermediary to bridge the conversation. In addition the mood/tone of the app should be sensitive to this.


It's a difficult topic to talk about and most people don't like talking about it. (millennial)


2. After starting the conversation for a few minutes, we noticed that people start to get MORE comfortable as they share. At first most people don’t elaborate but as the relationship builds they start to open up.

  • Take home: this gives us confidence a tiered intimacy level app would be effective. 


3. Millennials and baby boomers' concerns about EOL are very different. Millennials think of end of life care in a regards to spirituality having biggest concerns about mental & spiritual state at the time death. While baby boomers talk a lot more about the physical care including concerns about pain, caregivers and importance of not being a burden on their families.

  • Take home: Make sure to be sensitive to the different relationships and concerns different target audiences have with death and modify questions and information accordingly.


4. When asked directly if they agree with the core concept and assumptions of this product, the majority of people in both demographics said they would download an app like this. But they thought of the delivery of the information they in different ways.

  • Millennials, who have a behavior to think about technology as a tool, would research and look for an app. It would be easy for them to understand this as a way to help discuss EOL with their parents.
  • Whereas baby boomers would would like to see a paper option and most likely only hear about this if there was direct (referral) or indirect (media) recommendations made.
  • Take home: It would be important for this product's success to have different options of distribution for different demographics. Also it is important to view these entry points when looking at user behavior and marketing. 


"Yes. I can see myself downloading an app like this. The biggest motivation would be curiosity to see what I could learn from it and if it would really help me make a plan.”


4. The main issues that the app can address are:  

  • Educational insight about and how around EOL planning
  • Bridging the conversation gap between millennials and baby boomers 
  • Creating a sense of peace around a uneasy topic
  • Create actionable next steps 


DESIGN THINKING PROCESS

During the course of 3 months the OpenIDEO LA Chapter met multiple times to take part in all three parts of the design thinking process.

1st Phase: Research

We held an event for about 10 people to talk about our own experience with EOL and planning. We started the meet-up by watching a few minutes of BJ Miller’s TED Talk “What really matters at the end of life” to contextualize why and where design thinking can be of use. Then after a brief description of the stages of design thinking, we discussed the challenge, challenge goals and how that fit into the research/empathy stage of design thinking. We also checked in with Celeste Headlee’s “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” and used sample questions to ease into discussion about their experience with death. Finally as a group we synthesized the findings, talking about salient points and, in a later session, broke concepts and stories down into general themes.

2nd Phase: Ideation

We held an event for about 6 people where we went through two post-it ideation exercises. Tania and I presented our synthesized research from the previous meeting and placed them where they existed in the entire process of planning for death. After reviewing these we grouped them according to the buckets outlined by OpenIDEO. Our first exercise was thinking BIG about any and all concepts. Then we voted on the ideas and broke into two groups where we synthesized and created a story board for the two most popular ideas. After the event each team worked on writing up the content for each concept.

3rd Phase: Refinement

Before the event the 5 team members for this idea met and created a plan to each interview a few millennials and baby boomers to test our core assumptions and value proposition.  

Almost 10 people joined to work on creating personas and experience maps for the idea. There were 5 people that didn't have much experience with the concept so to break the ice we started with pairs interviewing each other about their own experience.  From there, in two groups we drew personas for "The Millennial" and "The Baby Boomer" and then used that to inform a experience map. 

(Updated 8/2/2016)


   



What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have completed interviews with people 12 within the millennial and baby boomer communities about their EOL experience AND our value proposition. We tested and affirmed our core assumptions that 1. Almost all millennials and most baby boomers do not have an EOL plan. 2. These demographics are willing/open to having these conversations" and 3. Millennials would like to use an app in order to start conversation. (Updated 8/2/2016) (See experience Maps and Persona images)

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

OpenIDEO is a community with vast and varied expertise and value. Here are a few examples in how we’d want to collaborate with the community. For our light level, finding intriguing facts and anecdotes. For our medium level, cross-referencing our lightweight data with experts in health, mental and end-of-life fields. For our heavy level, using the community of experts to help create a customizable action plan for each user’s results and legal advisors on legally binding planning (UPDATED 8/2/16)

Tell us about your work experience:

Our team has members who work in design, entrepreneurship, marketing, writing and publishing, and education. Each person has a background in different types of design, be it UX with digital products, service design, graphic design or design education which gives us a broad perspective.

This idea emerged from

  • An OpenIDEO Outpost or Chapter

Inspired by (1)

Living Legacies

19 comments

Join the conversation:

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Photo of Manal
Team

I like the idea of bridging gaps between generations. Having read the article on Modern Love, I think what is most striking is the intimate one-on-one conversation that leads to deep understanding and love. How do you think you can make this conversation more direct and engaging, instead of just sharing, is there a way that a pair (or group) of individuals commit to answering and sharing answers with one another? I can imagine a private sort of portal where this conversation is shared.

Anyhow, I would love to see updates from you and to know if there are prototypes being fleshed out. Great potential!

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Thanks Manal for the idea. We hadn't thought of a personal message portal but that is an interesting idea I would like to test.

At current we have done initial value proposition user research and some very basic prototyping but hope to continue this if we move on to the next phase.

Thanks, 
Alex 

Photo of Lois Perelson-Gross
Team

Question: Have you thought about collaborating with Go Wish, My Gift of Grace, or CAKE on your question development?

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Lois -

No we haven't but those are all really good suggestions. Thanks I will add it to our resources list and reach out if we move on to the next phase! 

Thanks, Alex

Photo of Madeline Duhon
Team

This seems like a very interesting approach to planning end of life care and end of life decisions in advance. The idea of 36 guiding questions strikes me as very powerful. Enough questions that out the outset I imagine it's comprehensive, but few enough to be counted and make the task seem manageable.

The idea of light-medium-heavy levels is also intriguing. I'm curious if and how, in addition to the different levels, you would consider having different approaches or mediums for going through the questions available. I could see that some younger users would be comfortable with the format of an app, but wonder if some of the older generations would prefer to work through the questions on paper of through some other format. 

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Madeline - great question.

We were thinking that given the format of an app, our initial target demographic would be a younger audience but as a user moved through the levels of questions they would go from in-app quiz (with social media share ability) to more of a conversation piece to help bridge the conversation between millennial and their baby boomer parents or even grandparents. Eventually it would be great to have a paper copy as final output or some exportable option of the user's preferences. 

Photo of Madeline Duhon
Team

Hi Alex, 

Thank you for clarifying. I had been focused on the format and on which medium would be most familiar for each age group independently, and was overlooking the added layer of different generations would share results with each other, even if those generations are familiar with different ways of engaging and sharing. In addition to being able to print digitally results for sharing on paper, would you consider a feature where those who answer the questions on paper could scan and share via social media with those living in the digital environment. Intriguing idea and I am looking forward to seeing it take shape. 

-Madeline

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Love that idea - thanks for the suggestion!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Alex! Here are some key questions and milestones we encourage from all ideas in the Refinement phase:

1. How might this idea address the unique needs of the target audience you're designing for?
2. Clearly summarize the value offering of your idea in 1-2 sentences
3. Communicate your idea in a visual way with user experience maps http://ideo.pn/UX_Map
4. Identify assumptions that need to be answered in order to validate your value offering: http://bit.ly/1Oi8ZHu
5. Collect feedback from potential partners and users to answer the assumptions you’ve identified.

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 07/12" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Thanks OpenIDEO - we have a small group meeting this Thursday and these questions will be helpful in focusing our updates.

Also I have not lead our OpenIDEO LA chapter members through an experience mapping exercise yet so that is perfect for this month's event!

Thanks, Alex Molloy  

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

That's great to hear Alex! Definitely keep us posted on what you guys are planning to do next:)

Photo of Ken Rosenfeld
Team

Hi Alex, I read through your idea with great interest, and really like how you approach graded-difficulty issues related to the topic.  As you were discussing millenials, I was actually imagining the tool as one to help millennial children have discussions with their aging parents about a range of issues that become more important near the end of life.  In fact, may of these very issues are addressed in other Ideas, as Neeti mentioned, and some of them could be incorporated into yours!  Bravo!

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Thanks for the comment Ken! That is exactly one of our aims, to bridge the gap and discussion between millennial and aging baby boomers before you are placed in a position to make a decision on the spot.  

Photo of Chris Lee
Team

Hi Alex,

I like the idea of using a pop-quiz format to hook people into thinking more deeply about the subject of death and dying. The idea of having deeper levels of questions is great.
Do you have thoughts on how the transition from pop-quiz to deeper thinking to internalization and normalization of the ideas behind the quizzes might happen?
How do you keep people's attention long enough for this to be relevant as, presumably, many preparation tasks should be done years in advance?

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Thanks for the comments Chris and bringing up some interesting questions. 

As far as how the transition from less serious to more serious, we have no solid idea but initially I was thinking that having a little story as a transitional story might be interesting to contextualize. Open to ideas if you have them too! 

And for staying relevant, I would say our main goal is creating the conversation and then a record of decisions so I think that having an export feature would be helpful for the long term. Gamification on some level should help us be "sticky" for the short term. 

Photo of Joy Johnston
Team

I definitely like this approach. Talking about death doesn't always have to be in a maudlin, heavy tone. The point is to get younger people engaged in the end-of-life process and Buzzfeed-style quizzes in an app format is a great starting point. As people become more comfortable discussing end-of-life issues, the more substantial levels of information can be accessed. I could see a group like Death Salon https://deathsalon.org/ promoting this app.

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Thanks Joy - I have never heard of Death Salon but will look into it!

Photo of Alex Molloy
Team

Thanks Neeti Kanodra - sounds like a great place to start and build from. We will take a look! 

Photo of Neeti Kanodra
Team

This is somewhat similar to the other idea - Legacy toolkit. Also it reminds me of the premise of the StoryCorps project/Memory Loss initiative. They have a list of suggested questions as well which are great for this scenario. URL: https://storycorps.org/great-questions/