Why User Insights and Design Thinking Work So Well Together - Part 1 of 3

Amy Majerowski (A) and Cindy Sellers (C) formed amplify insights + innovation in early 2016. Their expertise is in industrial design, strategic innovation and user insights, which is a unique combination of skills. 


They strongly believe having a deep understanding of users is the basis of any successful innovation program. The ability to utilize that understanding to create new ideas is what propels an innovation program forward. Having both — the understanding and the knowledge of how to use that understanding — is key. 


What brought the two of you together?

C: Amy and I worked together on several innovation programs during our careers at SC Johnson. At SCJ, we had the benefit of top-notch training and exposure to multiple large-scale innovation projects — something that many people don’t have the opportunity to experience. One day over coffee, we were reminiscing about how fun that was and realized we were in a perfect spot now to do that same kind of work for other companies. I had actually tried to plant the idea in Amy’s head a few times and even asked her to help me with a project to remind her how much fun it was. It finally ‘clicked’ for both of us during a debriefing session we were having in my van in the middle of a torrential downpour after talking to an auto shop owner about his air compressor! And that led us to create amplify.

A: One of the things I know about Cindy is that her strengths compliment mine - we look at problems from different angles, so together we make a really strong team. And we both want to bring our skills to companies that could really make use of our expertise to help grow their brand. I am a creative problem solver and Cindy is a strong user insights developer and that combination can lead to some great new ideas.

What a unique combination of skills! Amy’s talent is in industrial design and innovation strategy while Cindy’s expertise is in user insights and behaviors. How will this combination of expertise benefit your clients?

C: Whether you look at design thinking as a way to solve problems or as a way to create opportunities you see that empathy — a deep understanding of your user - is the first step in the process. You need to not only ‘know about’ the person you are solving the problem for, you need to be able to think like them, really get inside their head and their lives and ‘get them.’ We want to understand their wants before they even realize they have them. Once you have that, THEN the process starts.

My background is in user insights, across many categories, and I’ve always been fascinated with the stories and emotions around how products, services and experiences fit into users lives — the air freshener that gets plugged in to make sure the house smells like home when the son returns from college for the first time; the satisfaction a dad feels when the backyard party goes well without resorting to bug spray. Those connections, that empathy, is what I’ve always enjoyed tapping into and creating for my teams.  

Informed by solid understanding and deep empathy for our users, we can then confidently move into the rest of the design thinking process — that is where Amy’s expertise in design and innovation strategy is instrumental in taking the project forward to clearly define the problem so that ideation and prototyping can begin. Amy is highly skilled at taking a lot of information, organizing it and distilling it down to its essence to ensure that the problem is clearly defined. 

Amy and Cindy provide complimentary consultations.  Contact them today to get started on your innovation program.