A Doblin project

How might we reconsider the airport valet service, detaching from current stereotypes about what it is and who it’s for?

When we first got the RFP for this project, the 4-week timeline felt rushed. Rather perversely, this led us to ponder what the shortest project we could tolerate might be. Over a zippy two weeks, my co-pilot (!) Max and I spent four days immersed in the airport, one day celebrating Easter, and five days analyzing and synthesizing our research into a tidy report.

Setting the boundaries with smart problem framing and scoping was key to ensuring we’d be able to deliver something meaningful. Building on the problem framing approach I engineered for the Blue Jays work, we spent the first morning on-site developing nine sacrificial problem frames. In the afternoon kick-off, we worked with the client to compare, contrast, and winnow things down to our frame for the week.

Our research consisted of trying out the valet service first-hand, interviewing a mystery shopper about their experience, phone intercepts with recent customers, and lots of informative chats with the valet service attendants. Doblin’s behavioural design IP added heft to our small set of observations and provided inspiration for quick service prototypes that we designed and deployed on day four. Attendants gamely used our prototypes (a pricing table that experimented with different anchors and a welcome booth to better delineate the start of the service experience) for 36 hours which gave us exposure to both day and evening shifts.

Back in the office for the final week of work, we fleshed out recommendations for an additional round of rapid prototyping and used Ten Types of Innovation tactics in combination with our research learnings to generate speculations on how to refresh the airport’s valet offering. This work was a quick and tangible introduction to human-centred design for our client, not to mention a fun opportunity for Max and I to challenge orthodoxies regarding project delivery and experiment with our methods.


ABC Airport Authority


Aviation ecosystem

Key words

Rapid prototyping, research sprint, experimental

Additional team member

Max Wessman

Project highlights

Conducting a research sprint that felt like we were using our methods with integrity, while still finishing every day no later than 5:30pm.


Demonstrating the powerful combination of a well-scoped problem frame and even just a little bit of primary research.


Putting Doblin’s new behavioural design IP to practical use. Basic bEcon principles and the behavioural design tactics provided great perspective to what we were seeing, even in limited quantities.