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I saw the movie Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, a few years ago but it never really had an impact on me. It actually passed as any other film. But I watched again a few weeks ago and it had a totally different meaning. There are some spoilers to the film so it’s better to go watch it first and then read on.

Joy is loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, an american inventor and entrepreneur. She began her million-dollar empire with the Miracle Mop. As any other invention, she began her journey based on her own experience. She was a working mom with three kids and as she said in an interview for ABC News, she “was just tired of bending down, putting my hands in dirty water, ringing out a mop”. She needed to find a better way.

And as it is explained in the movie, she tried it many times before succeeding. We can actually use a design thinking framework to explain her process. Even though her process wasn’t as smooth we can learn and understand her mind by using this graphic from Neilsen Norman Group (Gibbons, 2016).

She put herself as the customer, basing the solution on her own problem, a must in design thinking. So she emphasise with her target audience, which were mothers or women cleaning their houses, because she experienced that same problem. It could be said that Abduction theory was used in this case. As she knew the value she wanted to generate for her customers (Comi, 2017) but she didn’t know exactly what that object was and even the working principles of it. She just knew she had to create something that filled her expectations of using a mop without touching it or getting wet.

She ideated and prototyped. She creates an MVP (minimum viable product) which is a fully functioning replica of what your product would look like. This is necessary to test its features and make sure it works. Now going back to the movie, there are two great scenes that I can point out. The first one is when Joy decides to go ask a financier, her father’s parter, for an investment. She pitches her idea, business plan and demonstrates her product features with an MVP (minimum viable product) she made herself. This is a very powerful scene and one that demonstrates how passionate she was with her invention.

The second scene that I liked the most is the one where she already has the product made and she has it featured on TV for selling. The host in charge of demonstrating it doesn’t quite know how it works and fails at it. She then decides to take the matter in her hands and convince that she is the one who should demonstrate how it works. Let’s be realistic, this doesn’t always work because our product needs to speak for itself. But it’s a great way to show her passion and her determination on making this work, and of not taking no for an answer.

And… she also failed. Several times. She made mistakes and she failed. She kept going anyway, believed in herself and most importantly learned. We can all learn from her mistakes.

Long story short, Joy Mangano worked hard and believed in herself and her inventions. Today she is the CEO of Ingenious Designs and holds more than 100 patents and trademarks for home solution products (Ho, 2010). This is just one of several inspiring stories that we can learn from.



Abc News .(2006) Making Millions Off a Super Mop. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2018).

Comi, A. (2017) Theories in Practice: Part 1. Available at: (Accessed: 9 February 2018).

Gibbons, S. (2016) Design Thinking 101. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2018).

Joy (film) directed by David O. Russell. (2015) Available at:  (Accessed: 10 February 2018).

Joy (trailer) available at:  (Accessed: 10 February 2018).

Trang, Ho. (2010) Joy Mangano Cleans Up In Sales. Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2018).

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