The United Nations proclaimed June 1 to be the Global Day of Parents "to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship".
In line with this date, we thought it was the perfect time to re-share our work with Pro Juventute, a Swiss foundation supporting the rights and needs of children. Here in Switzerland, parents receive the Pro Juventute Parents' Letters upon the birth of their child/children. This letter accompanies parents during the first six years of their child's life.
After providing support for over 40 years the organisation decided it was time to modernise and redefine its iconic parent letter. That’s where Spark Works came in…. We sat down with Michael, who led this project to find out how they reworked the letter but continued to keep its original values in mind.
These letters have a lot of history and are well known all around Switzerland, since most people get them (automatically) when they have their first child. Since the need for information and the number of questions about parenthood is highest in the beginning, the letters are a valuable companion for the first months of having a child, providing solid, trustworthy information exactly when it is needed the most. They also provide an overview of the most relevant issues and milestones for each month - before they come up - and cover topics that parents might not have been aware of otherwise, providing an important sense of reassurance and confirmation for the families.
When we started the research, we were aware of the fact that many elements of the parent letters provide a lot of value, and we intended to keep these core components and strengths intact for a rethought solution as well. Nevertheless, there certainly was room for improvement as well, especially to better fit the offering to the emerging needs of a new generation of parents with different pain points and behaviours. Throughout direct interactions with a large number of parents we uncovered some opportunity spaces where we could have a positive impact with a “new” way of informing the parents, e.g. a more fresh and modern look and feel for the letters in general and a more digital approach that allows the conveyed information to be even more fitting and customised to the individual child’s development journey.
At the beginning of the project, we made explicit all our assumptions about parents needs and pain points (it’s worth mentioning that none of our team members were parents themselves) and then we did the only sensible thing and went out to talk to mothers, fathers and experts to get a solid overview of what’s out there and validate some of our initial assumptions. After more than 50 interviews we felt like we had a good understanding of different views and opinions, behaviours and actions on the parents side, and based on the research we were able to identify some gaps and issues that modern-day families have in an early stage. As a next step, we sat together with Pro Juventute and some motivated parents and created a large number of creative ideas to address the identified issues. In an iterative process, we put together the emerging ideas in a suitable form (in this case an app) and thought about technical details and a fitting business model. After all this creative work, we went back out to the parents again and exposed our concept to their critical feedback, which allowed us to fundamentally improve and adapt the solution in the next step. Finally, we presented the validated idea and an implementation plan with the necessary next steps to make the solution real and available.
First of all, the research showed that there are many different opinions, perspectives and parenting styles out there, and parents have different needs in many aspects of life, e.g. if they want their information digitally or analogue. There were however common patterns for some crucial topics, for example, the value of having a trustworthy, go-to source that covers many relevant topics in a simple, informative style. Or the awareness that there is a potential conflict between standardised, norm-based advice for each milestone of child development and the reality, where individual journeys might differ (without necessarily being problematic).
Overall, the Pro Juventute parent letters today provide more value than ever, since they are a “safe haven” for many parents in the storm of overwhelming, semi-trustworthy information that is accessible from many different sources these days, and they arrive right at the time where you need them the most, be that in a digital or analogue format.