Words by: Ryan Russell
At Hinge Health, we use tenets for everything from product development to internal operations. At the highest level, tenets are a mechanism to codify and align a team’s thinking. They enable teams to arrive at decisions and prioritize autonomously, especially when faced with a fork in the road or differing views.
While a lot has been written about tenets, my goal here is to discuss how we framed and used them, with insights for those looking to create tenets for their projects.
Creating a good set of tenets is hard work and requires iterations. Once created, they save a lot of time later. Useful tenets are short, memorable, and specific. Everyone can understand them – no insider language. Tenets that state the obvious, contain multiple ideas, or restate core beliefs won’t help effective decision-making.
We developed six tenets to guide the creation of new video content for the Hinge Health video exercise therapy experience. Given the number of decisions to be made, we needed to ensure our thinking was crisp and aligned across the organization. Here, I am unpacking three key tenets that helped the team efficiently drive through those decisions and design reviews.
Leverage our experts.
We lean into videos and audio from our clinical and coaching team to increase user confidence and trust in our methodology.
At Hinge Health, we have an accomplished team of medical experts (physical therapists, doctors, etc.) who work with our members to improve their health. Their knowledge and wisdom is invaluable. We wanted these experts to teach the exercises and stretches, not actors or actresses. With this tenet in place, the team quickly and confidently selected the right talent for these new videos.
The quality and style of our content remain relevant; it withstands the test of time.
We have an extensive library of exercises at Hinge Health. Frequent reshooting–because a creative style or element has become dated–would be neither scaleable nor frugal/economical. This tenet enabled the team to work through several creative decisions, from wardrobe to background and the script. It also helped guide creative reviews of the test shoot content, ensuring we did not select a style that could not scale later. This tenet steered a critical choice–the decision to use voice-over instead of in-camera speaking for our videos, providing more flexibility to reuse/repurpose. With in-camera, any changes or adjustments to the script require re-shooting.
We never feel ‘intimidating' and ‘exclusive’ with the vocabulary, setting, attire, and models for those who are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the idea of exercise therapy.
We have a diverse group of members at Hinge Health because, unfortunately, musculoskeletal (MSK) pain impacts so many. One in two Americans experiences back, neck, shoulder, or other MSK pain in any given year. Therefore, our exercise videos need to be approachable to all members, regardless of their fitness experience or background in exercise. This tenet guided the team through countless decisions around the wardrobe, setting, casting, script, and more. It helped us find the right path forward while evaluating concepts and reviewing test shoot videos. It enabled reviewers to provide specific feedback that was actionable for the team, as opposed to “This feels good,” “I like Direction B,” or “That attire is bad.”
These tenets were written by a multidisciplinary group: product, UX, and creative. This diverse perspective was vital to ensuring we had all our thinking covered. I highly recommend creating tenets through iteration, made stronger by the power of multiple viewpoints.
I hope this peek into tenets we created helps those interested in learning more and trying out tenets for themselves.