Capture your users’ pains and gains to understand what motivates and influences their decisions.

đź‘Ą 3 – 10 people | ⏰ between 10-15 minutes


Many decisions often boil down to a person’s basic choices between benefit and harm.

This exercise helps develop an understanding of your users’ motivations and decisions.

By capturing how they perceive benefit and harm with regard to a certain context, your group may uncover the most relevant points to bring up in presenting to your organisation or to influence users’ decisions.

This key person may be the ultimate user of a product or may be the leader of an organisation whose approval is sought.


  1. Start by writing the key person’s name or creating a quick sketch of him on a wall.
  2. Ask about this person’s pains first by prompting the group to step inside his mind and think and feel as he does. Capture the answers on one side of the person:
    What does a bad day look like for him?
    What is he afraid of?
    What keeps him awake at night?
    What is he responsible for?

  3. What obstacles stand in his way? A person’s gains can be the inversion of the pain situation—or can go beyond. Capture these on the opposite side by asking:
    What does this person want and aspire to?
    How does he measure success?
    Given the subject at hand, how could this person benefit?
    What can we offer this person?

  4. Summarise and prioritise the top pains and gains from the exercise. You can use them when developing presentations, value propositions, or any other instance where you are trying to influence a decision.