IDP 116 has taught me the how useful storytelling can be, the importance of problem framing, the power of different brainstorming methods and how being rushed can be beneficial. From the very first day, we immediately began developing prototypes after a very short introduction to design thinking. Although many aspects of the week felt rushed, it helped my brainstorming process overall and due to the time constraints I wasn’t able to overthink as much. The various brainstorming methods that were used, including developing a POV statement and the use of empathy maps, were extremely helpful. I felt like our “Sticky Note Day” was more effective than any other brainstorming session that I have ever had. While my team may have lost sight of our focus during the initial prototype phase, due to our brainstorms we quickly regained confidence in developing a product to accomplish our goal: to re-teach Smith students about the compost process and correct composting. Many of our best ideas came late in the brainstorming process which was surprising as I usually pick an idea that arises in the early stages of brainstorming.
Throughout the process of choosing a topic, interviewing and observations, our group was constantly reevaluating our ideas and focus for the project. I learned how important it is to frame the problem, not just jump to solutions that could help fix the problem.
One particular thing that our group struggled with was choosing a project that would count as a “learning activity.” I felt as though that greatly limited our opportunities and we were forced to chose a topic very randomly and rapidly.
Once we got feedback from a tester, our group decided that our prototypes had lost sight of our original focus of guiding students to learn how to compost correctly and the lifecycle of compost at Smith. We were able to take a step back from our prototypes fairly easily. I learned that it isn’t that difficult to abandon some of your prototypes if they are ineffective or not designed specifically with the user in mind. Sometimes, like in this situation, you have to start over and reevaluate given the feedback you receive from the tester.
Another very important lesson I learned throughout this past week is how to communicate with others in a team. Previously, I had always dreaded group projects because of the difficulty of coordinating schedules with other people, miscommunication issues and division of the workload. This week, I felt like my team worked efficiently and we were able to work together on every element of the project.
I have really enjoyed this past week in IDP 116 and I am excited to apply the lessons I have learned about design thinking to my other studies.