Stefan and me attended at a two-days workshop about design thinking that we would like to share with you. The name of the event was Design Thinking – Try It Out!. It was held on the 5th and 6th of December 2016, at the Impact Hub in Stockholm, by Neda Nordin.
The base idea of Design Thinking methodology is that one doesn’t need to be a designer to think like one. The workshop was created for people that are thinking about starting their own business, or run already but the growth is slow, and are not sure if they are solving the right problem. During the workshop attendees are expected to learn how to use techniques like human-centred interviewing, visual stories, experience mapping, ideation matrixes and rapid prototyping. This learning should be done in an atmosphere of radical collaboration and iterative learning.
During the two evening sessions – 4 hours each, attendees get an overview of the Design Thinking process in a mix of theory and practical exercises to:
- Understand – discover user challenges and desires
- Define – synthesize findings into insights
- Ideate – turn insights into ideas and evaluate them
- Prototype and test– explore and validate concepts.
On the first day we started the workshop with some fun activities to get familiar with the new people you have just met. It was not connected to design thinking at all – as we had to draw some portrait of each other – but it was perfect to get to know each other a bit. After this small intro, we listened to the first half of the Neda’s presentation. We formed groups and started working, because the great part of this workshop was really about to try out everything we were learning simultaneously. Every group got a problem as a task that they had to solve in the best way during this two days.
The first group work was a brainstorming session, called “the charrette”. We had 20 minutes to identify our problem and find the users, stakeholders who have influence and try to connect and group them. After this, to gather some data we had to do some interviews. We had an hour to go out on the streets and talk with people who might relate to the problem that we were trying to solve. These type of interviews always have to be planned in advance, but you always have to change your questions based on the actual situation. We got some guidelines from Neda: always ask open question, ask why, and again why, ask to define words that stand out, look for patterns and find what sticks out. It was interesting, how easy is to start a conversation with strangers in Stockholm, as they were interested in our questions and not afraid to answer our them. Even if they were in hurry a bit they had a few minutes to helps us out.
After a short break the next task was to understand what we saw and heard during the interviews. This is the “define” part of the design thinking process. Until that point we had had to find out more and more, the quantity had been the key word, but then we had to focus on the most important things and identify the problem. Neda was giving some great tools for us again about how to do it.
At the start of the second day we worked on the “ideation” part of the workshop. We used the data we gathered, and patterns we identified to brainstorm and ideate around the interviewees problems we could solve. We were asked to be visual, when trying to explain our ideas to group members. After brainstorming, where we generated a lot of ideas, we voted and identified the ideas that people liked the most. After first round of voting and finding three best ideas, we voted again among them and chose the one that we liked the most and wanted to work on for the rest of the workshop.
Now when we found our favourite ideas we had to proceed to the last part of the workshop, prototyping. The idea of the prototyping part was to bring our ideas to life quickly, making them tangible and get some feedback to improve these ideas further. To be able to create a prototype we had to start with pre-prototyping. This can include things as stories, theatre, role-play, sketches, mock-ups etc. We had to generate a storyboard. On the storyboard we had to break the idea into smaller moments over time. This could easily explain the problem that we want to solve and the “implemented” action and solution. After that we got a time slot to build a prototype. The main idea during the creation of prototype was to “Do – Think – Do”. Important advices was not to try to make a perfect prototype and not “fall in love” with it. After prototyping session, to be able to test the prototypes each group presented their prototype to the rest of the groups and the final voting was done where the winning prototype was selected.
In short, we had a great time in the two evenings and we could try the design thinking out in the workshop. We met with lot of new and kind people, and they have helped us to develop our innovative thinking process. It was a good combination of learning and doing as we had some presentation and we were able to do them immediately after it. We would like to thank to Neda and to the Impact Hub that they gave us the opportunity to attend at their workshop.