Explore. Think. Act. September 21, 2009Posted by Carlos Lievano in Design Thinking.
Trying to consolidate the design process into a series of discrete events is a challenging task. From the reading of Innovation as a Learning Process by Sara Beckman and Michael Barry, and Design Thinking by Tim Brown, we can see that despite having many elements in common, the description of the process itself is different. The main reason for this is the fact that this is an organic, iterative process. You may go back a step, run parallel threads, merge activities, and many other variations that add complexity to the task of describing the process. To make it more complex, in this post I’ll offer yet another alternative description of the process.
Why another one? Well, my proposal is simpler in that it only has 3 steps to describe it:
– Explore: this first step is defined by observation. Not just with your eyes, but engaging all of your senses. Not passively, but with the characteristic curiosity of the pioneering explorers of centuries ago. Going into the unknown, charting the land, coming up with alternative routes.
– Think: the next step is to digest the findings of your voyage. Like Darwin on board the HMS Beagle, you search for patterns, trends, norms, commonalities and differences, which help describe what was observed. And you keep doing this, even after your exploration is over. Darwin wrote many books from those travels, many years later. You, as a designer, aren’t limited to writing books.
– Act: design isn’t just about coming up with ideas. It’s about coming up with solutions, and for a solution to solve anything, it needs to be implemented. It’s like books, that to become into a story, they need to be read.
We can’t forget that the glue that binds these steps together is iteration. For successful design, you’ll need at least two iterations: one to define the problem, the second one to shape the solution. But as we said, there are no limits to the ways iteration can take place. The steps can happen in a different order. Two or all of them can be occurring at the same time. Different instances of the same step can be happening concurrently, tackling different aspects of the problem. Like a film-maker, once you’ve learned the rules and elements of movies, you can selectively tweak them, and create a few rules of your own. When you achieve this, you master your art. You master design.