Our first design thinking project was an interesting exercise in applying a design thinking mindset to a specific, human-centric problem. Although resources were limited due to this being a student project, all class members came up with relevant solutions that could be implemented if their project was taken further. And we had a lot of fun along the way!
Each student designed a poster to summarise our learning journey, reflecting the stages we went through for this project and using words and images to tell the story. You can see my poster below…
There were a number of learning points and insights along the way, as well as further learning on reflection after the project finished. Some of my key learning points were:
- Focusing on a real person really helps when generating, selecting and prototyping ideas. We could ask “What would Mike think?” or “Would Mike use this?”, which made it more real and kept the human focus
- Adding constraints when brainstorming increases (rather than limits) ideas. For example, a constraint such as “the idea must cost over $2 million to implement” lets your mind run free and explore pie-in-the-sky ideas
- Don’t start with a solution in mind. Be prepared to throw ideas out if they are not suitable for the user, no matter how good you think the idea is
- Always cross-check ideas and prototypes against your stated problem (Point of View). Does it solve it for the user? If not, re-focus efforts on that.
- If possible, involve real users in the idea generation and prototyping. That way you’ll get more immediate input and they’ll buy into the solution more.
Although we followed a standard process used by others who practise design thinking, we recognised that this was just one way to do it. It’s an iterative process, and in fact it need not be a defined process at all. The main thing is to focus on the user – put human beings at the centre and design around their needs – identify what their issues are, generate ideas, and learn by doing. Which is what we did.