Monthly Archives: October 2015

International Design Congress 2015: Design-Thinking-Psychology

I gave a super compressed 2-day psychology-integrated design thinking workshop at the International Design Congress at Kwangju. Super compressed means in two 3h-sessions, I condensed a 6-week design-thinking-forward workshop I had just completed at Hongik and Sangmyung University in Seoul. But it worked!

Here’s how:

1. Socializing in every exercise

With an audience that is diverse in age, country and educational background, it is essential that all members feel like a group for feeling free in the subsequent creative exercises. So in every exercise, I included one or two aspects of socializing, like learning a new name, or asking about a personal preference.

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2. Make every exercise fun

Design thinking is fun for many but not all people, and not all the time. So when the energy level drops, it is essential to integrate fun elements into the exercises. To accomplish the socializing goal at the same time, the exercises should always aim for coordination between people. The secret of creating a fun exercise is to remove the intellectuality.

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3. Channel fun into productivity

In order to create a super-quick prototype in only 10 minutes, I prep the people with an energy exercise appropriate to the group. This group at IDC2015 was hyperactive, so I taught them a basic hiphop move to groove:

http://design-thinking-forward.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/IMG_3595.ogv

Right after this hiphop exercise, people put their groove experience into their prototyping work, and five groups finished a completely different prototype in only 10 minutes.

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Conclusion: Create a socializing-fun-productivity experience of your workshop!

Seeing their prototype come alive in this short time created a sense of accomplishment – in essence building up creative confidence as suggested by Tim Brown. This was all the more the case as participants experienced themselves integrating a lot of psychological knowledge learned in this workshop. Look at the energy level after the last three super intensive hours of the workshop:

 

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Design Thinking Forward – Session 5: Test

Testing is one of the most critical parts in design thinking. A major reason is that we must demonstrate an experience even though we don’t have a fully functioning product but only a prototype. So presentation is the key – it must focus on the user experience.

To challenge the students in this session, I gave them only 10 minutes for creating a prototype to the point-of-view:

“How can we help Lucy Loose to feel confident and get creative in a situation where she feels too much pressure to get a job?”

After completing this super-quick prototyping exercise, I encouraged the students that it is ok to have a prototype far from perfection – it is called a “shitty first draft”. The value of a shitty first draft is that it is good enough for demonstrating how our persona (a design student with low self-esteem) can fulfill her needs with the prototype as an experience – a complete contrast to a feature presentation of the prototype.

After just a few minutes more, the students did an excellent job for the user experience demonstration.

One group demonstrated various user scenarios with a digital multi-service app with a cardboard container:

Full-service App

Other groups groups showed the instant relaxing feature of their prototype, or the coaching experience to build up the persona’s self-esteem.

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The overall students’ feedback reflected their surprise how effectively they could build a shitty-first-draft prototype in only 10 minutes. Personally, I was very happy because one of my design thinking principles is “start with doing – not discussing”.

The whole group gave feedback about each prototype on the feedback grid I like-I wish-New Idea-Open Question, just like in conventional design thinking.

After that, I taught one essential step from psychological methodology how to improve the subsequent feedback integration:

The team processes the negative feedback (derived from “I wish”/”Open Question”) and “New Ideas” into hypotheses. Hypothesis testing in psychology is statistically founded and I love it so much – but it has no relevance in the design thinking context, so I left it out painfully. Instead, I taught how you formulate hypotheses inspired by three psychological models (simple linear regression, multiple linear regression, moderator test). According to these models, everybody formulated his/her hypotheses and thus generated the input for the subsequent design thinking cycle. And that was it!

 

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Design Thinking Forward – Session 4: Prototype

This session focused on providing the students an extended understanding of prototyping. For building an effective prototype, it is not enough to conceive some functionality. We must take into account that before using our prototype, the user must learn how to use it. Therefore, a human-centered focus of prototyping is to make it easy for the user to learn the usage. In other words, we must consider various modes of human learning.

I started with classical conditioning, and the students were amazed how often they encounter this learning mode in everyday life – from famous actresses in commercials, a threatening melody in an action movie, or the colors of food.

Next learning mode was operant conditioning. Everybody was clear on the basic modes of reward and punishment, i.e. positive reinforcement and positive punishment. In contrast, it was difficult for all to understand the substractive nature of removing a stimulus, i.e. negative reinforcement and negative punishment. Yet, I really believe that understanding these modes can be key to open up a whole new realm of dealing with reward and punishment.

Last but not least, observational learning from Bandura’s famous social-cognitive theory. It seemed the most intuitive learning mode to most students. Most of them really liked my life example of teaching them a breakdance move, and thereby demonstrating the acqusition phase (attention, retention) and performance phase (motor reproduction, reinforcement) of operant conditioning…

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