I work in the Communications division and one of our primary functions is supporting other divisions with the development of materials and content to promote their program, events, and services. Recently the process of projects being submitted and completed has hit a snag. The problem typically occurs during the final stage. A project request is submitted, the communications and design team work to create the requested materials, but when the finished materials are sent back to the supervisor for final approval, materials aren’t getting approved. It is frustrating for the all parties involved, so when the problem was brought to me, I immediately thought of Design Thinking.
I wondered how I could use Design Thinking to better understand the problem and potentially design a different process for our team. I started rereading our class materials on Design Thinking and did a quick search to gather more information about the approach. One of the articles titled, “What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular?” by Rikke Friis Dam and Toe Yu Siang was particularly helpful. It reminded me of an earlier post that I made this semester about “Mindful Design.” Like my discussion board post, the article focused on the importance of understanding the user. The article states, “Design Thinking revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom we’re designing the products or services.” It goes on to say that Design Thinking is not limited to design. The approach can and is being used across disciplines to solve problems in creative and innovative ways. In Rethinking Design Thinking, Don Norman writes, ”Take the original problem as a suggestion, not as a final statement, then think broadly about what the real issues underlying this problem statement might really be (for example by using the ‘Five Whys’ approach to get at root causes.” This is a powerful statement and as we discussed in class is a deep analysis of the problem is often missed. Many of us (myself included) are eager to find a solution. So I am going to make a concerted effort to spend more time in the empathize and define stages of the Design Thinking approach.
So back to my final approval issue. I’ve started to identify the “real” problem. I’m working to understand more about the users in this process before proposing any solutions. I’ve conducted a few informal interviews and asked the each interviewees to explain the what-how-why. The interviews gave me the chance to dig a bit deeper into the teams’ emotions and behaviors, which was revealing. I believe spending time with the individuals who will be participating in the new process will help evoke empathy, which is at the heart of human-design thinking.