Design Thinking Series, Part 2: Design Thinking Workshop

Posted by on August 08, 2019

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“Everyone can—and does—design. We all design when we plan for something new to happen, whether that might be a new version of a recipe, a new arrangement of the living room furniture, or a new lay tour of a personal web page. So design thinking is something inherent within human cognition; it is a key part of what makes us human.”

—— Nigel Cross
Design Studies at The Open University, UK

 

Design thinking has been around for decades, used to create innovative new products even before Tim Berners Lee wrote the first Web page. The design agency IDEO is often credited with coining the term in the late 1970s to  better describe their human centered approach to problem solving.

However, design thinking has been increasingly adopted over the last ten years by digital designers applied to software and web design. This philosophy helps them bring a fresh breath of innovative thinking to the profession by engaging the people who know the most about what a product’s needs are— the people who will be using it— in the design process.

Design thinking collects a variety of approaches, exercises, and tools, into a unified process that places humans at the center of all decisions made. The process involves research and rapid ideation (a fancy term for idea generation) combined with telling compelling stories about how the product will be used and then prototyping and testing the ideas.

Simply thinking about the single interface or interaction point with a product is not enough. Instead, design thinking considers the users experience with not only products but with your organization as a whole over-time to design products that fit the user’s needs.

One important thing to understand about Design Thinking, though, is that it does not work to immediately find “a solution”. Instead the process works to understand what is needed, what a successful outcome will look like, and to ask the right questions before even thinking about the solution. This means stepping back from our assumptions and preconceptions about what can be done and instead considering what should be done.

Workshop Overview

The workshop is for people who may not consider themselves a “designer” but want to participate in the creative process to impact the final solution design and experience with guidance from design thinking experts. Thus, the team members in the workshop may often complain, “But I’m not a designer!” at first. The point of the workshop is not to put the burden of design on them, but instead to allow them to work with trained designers to help bring out their own natural abilities for solving problems that only they, as the user, may fully understand.

The workshop goals are to:

  • Discover needs and optimal outcomes for the product.

  •  Define the triggers and expected outcomes for users.

  •  Ideate to flush-out ways to help users meet their expectations.

  •  Tell stories that describe the solutions.

  • Refine the solutions into job stories that will serve as project requirements.

Once completed the designers build on the results from the workshop to create a working prototype that can then be tested and refined with feedback from the workshop teams towards developing the final product.

Workshop Roles & Responsibilities

Facilitators

Facilitators coordinate the workshop and ensure that the teams stay on track. There is a master facilitator, overseeing the entire workshop, with each team having an individual facilitator leading their efforts.

Workshop Teams

The workshop team should be a combination of subject matter experts recruited from power users, new users, and reluctant users who can help guide the workshop towards the solutions that work best for the overall. Each team will be made up of 3-6 (not including the group facilitator) people which will participate in the same workshop but may tackle a different aspect of the solution.

Set the Stage

Before the workshop begins, the workshop master facilitator needs to have the right challenge and the right teams. Working with the client, they will choose the issue to be tackled on during the workshop, recruit the workshop teams, and make sure to gather all materials needed to conduct the workshop.

Design Thinking Workshop —
Define, Generate Ideas, & Tell Stories

This two day session will involve a number of activities to help the team define the needs and big ideas that they are attempting to find solutions for. The bulk of the time will be spent in group activities with workshop teams.

  • To define the solution, they use well tested design thinking processes to come to the big ideas to be achieved for the users.

  • Next, the teams create an initial round of job stories to be considered.

  • Brainstorming ideas (ideation) goes hand in hand with telling stories to communicate how those ideas will work.

  • Once ideas are generated, the teams begin to flush them out using a variety of techniques to describe how the ideas they generated will work in context to the big ideas and job  stories.

This is not a simple linear process, however. The workshop will constantly iterate back around to creating new big ideas and job stories as they come up.

Job Stories

The results of the workshop are specific job stories that define how the product should work, and can be quickly turned into a prototype to be tested with users.

Prototype & Test

Once the issues are well researched and defined with stories that communicate how the solution will work, Rivet Logic will build those ideas into a testable prototype.

  • The prototype is where we begin to design what the final solution looks and feels (visual design) and how it will work (experience).

  • Prototype development will also be vetted by developers and business owners to ensure viability and feasibility.

  • To ensure the solution is on the right course, it is vital to test our prototype—along with any assumptions we’ve made—and then continue testing through the build process to make sure that it is working as intended.

Next Steps

Once the design satisfies client needs after an iterative process of testing and revision, work begins on moving from design into development. This is not simply preparing documents to hand off to development, but involves having design working closely with development to ensure that the solution is realized as envisioned, the highest usability standards are maintained and that the client is fully satisfied. This might involve additional testing of the solution while in production and beta testing.

 

Interested in conducting a design thinking workshop? Contact Rivet Logic to learn more!

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