Tag Archives: Design

How to run a brainstorm for introverts (and extroverts too)

The context of users and brainstorm participants played a huge role in how the session should be planned and structured, as well as the goals set. The TedBlog post is a great starting point in reflecting on the practice of brainstorming. Always ask the question, who is in the room?

TED Blog

How-to-brainstormCocktail party trivia: Brainstorming was invented in the 1930s as a practical idea-generation technique for regular use by “creatives” within the ad agency BBDO. That all changed in 1942, when Alex Osborn — the “O” in BBDO — released a book called How to Think Up and excited the imaginations of his fellow Mad Men.

Since 1942, the idea-generation technique that began life in a New York creative firm has grown into the happy kudzu of Silicon Valley startups. Somewhere near Stanford, an introvert cringes every time the idea comes up of sitting in a roomful of colleagues, drawing half-baked ideas on Post-it notes, and then pasting them to the wall for all to see. (If this is you, watch David Kelley’s TED Talk on creative confidence, followed by Susan Cain’s on the power of introverts.)

I’ve run a lot of brainstorms over the years: with designers at…

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Frog Toolkit

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I simply can not thank the fabulous people at FROG and Service Design Network enough for developing and publicising this great toolkit. I love using this in the education studio to empower students to be able to create and facilitate.

Part of frog’s commitment to social impact, CAT is a set of activities and methods to enable groups of people anywhere to organize, collaborate, and create solutions for problems impacting their community.

Click here to visit the FROG page


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A must view! | AC4D Design Library

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It may be early in the year, but I’m almost sure this is one of the most amazing tools I will find in 2014. AC4D Design Library claims that it is a ‘Practical resource to support the process of design’ – and they are not exaggerating! The tools are clear, well designed (I always find it amusing when design tools are badly designed…), using clear language and broken into strategic sections. I can’t wait to give every single one of these a go! Thank you Austin Centre for Design.

To visit the website click here.

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Tools, tools, tools.

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Thanks to the SDS (Service Design Network) for another great hint! I find myself mildly addicted to online design toolkits, well, then again it could be worse. LiveWork studios is my new discovery yet they have been developing tools based on research, practice and trials for over a decade.

In combination with advanced thinking and continuous research we produce surprising customer insights, together with breakthrough business and market assessments. The tools enable us to design and create effective services for customers that organisations can deliver.

Their online toolkit deserves a visit. I’m sure it will soon become a firm favourite of yours. Click on the link below.

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The Value of Design

I was recently asked what my views are on the ‘value of design’. I spend so much time reviewing the work of others and finding links between current design theories that is refreshing to stop, and spend some time thinking about my views on the subject. One of the most important things we need to acknowledge is the difference between design as a profession and design as a process. I often speak to recent graduates and I’m intrigued when they all say “I’m a designer” and never “I design”. Semantics some may argue, but I believe it highlights an important duality in design. On the one hand design is a professional occupation – grounded in the needs and wants of clients. For me the statement “I’m a designer” describes this. The aim of design in this context is to produce object, messages, environments etc. that addresses user needs. The second option, “I design” refers to design as a process, an iterative and methodical problem solving technique.

A Brief History of the Chair in Design, Denver Art Museum, 2012

A Brief History of the Chair in Design, Denver Art Museum, 2012

The apologetic nature of the new (and only slightly different) chair.

I should state upfront that I love chairs. For me, there are few objects that can so succinctly depict the evolution of design through the ages better than seating and chairs. However, if we are honest, many contemporary chair designs are only slight variations of existing designs, offering nothing new to the user except possible colour changes, surface decoration and maybe something a bit special in the leg department. One may ask then why new chairs are being designed and produced.  This is the realm of “only slightly different, but completely new” design.   It is the mind set and design practice that contributed to the consumerist world we inhabit. Yet, we can’t move away from this form of design completely. It is through gradual development that users engage most successfully with new technologies. Users also require more individualisation and personalisation of products and environments, creating demand for “only slightly different, but completely me” design. To say that this stream of design does not offer significant value is unfair.  The objects and environments around us evolve and adapt through this design stream. And, through more sustainable and ethical practices the manufacturing and distribution of designed objects have less negative environmental impact. I spent the first few years of my career in this stream, as I believe most do. Learning my trade, developing my skills and developing that slightly elusive designer intuition (which is by no means always correct). During the last two years my passion within design has shifted and I am now passionate (read, slightly obsessed) with the larger design environment and the connections between design, people and technology.

Thinking for design

Design thinking. The phrase causes a cold shiver down my spine. Mostly because I have sat in more meetings than I would like to remember during which design thinking was describes almost as a magical spell that would improve business, operations and ultimately the financial bottom line. As a designer I was expected to wave my magical ‘design thinking’ wand and shazam! The amazing writings of Richard Buchanan, describing the power of design to address complex, or ‘wicked’, problems had in a few decades been twisted into a parlour trick, required to deliver innovation and organisational rejuvenation. I appreciate the candid discussion of Paul Pangaro on the topic during his Picnic presentation, Rethinking Design Thinking, in 2010.  Today I am back in the world of ‘design thinking’, only this time it is from a user centred perspective.  The potential within the design process, to detail and analyse complex problems and develop through creative, critical and reflective thinking a context appropriate solution, is for me the real value of design. Service design is an area I am particularly interested in. As an approach Service Design encompasses all design disciplines, focused on the improvement of development of user centred service experiences. It’s about people – their world, their technologies, their experiences, their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Design for social development, design for the other 90% and similar movements share a core focus on context appropriate solutions for real users. What is the value of design? Strategic change for an improved situation – a better walkway for children in rural areas to get to school, a more streamlined process in clinics, improved channels of communication in police stations for victims of abuse and food growing projects feeding entire communities. What is the value of design? It can empower us to see problems as manageable, to imagine a better situation and help us do something about it.

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This is Service Design Doing | July 2013

This is a brief documentary of the Executive Summer School “This is Service Design Doing” (Berlin, 23-26 July 2013). In 2,5 days, participants learned how to apply Service Design Thinking to the rapid innovation of customer experiences in multi-channel product-service ecosystems. The school was facilitated by Marc Stickdorn (co-author of the book ‘This is Service Design Thinking’), Markus Hormess (Service Innovation Expert and co-initiator of the world’s largest service design event ‘Global Service Jam’), and Adam Lawrence (Service Design & Customer Experience Expert and co-initiator of the world’s largest service design event ‘Global Service Jam). Got interested? The Executive Winter School ‘THIS IS SERVICE DESIGN DOING’ takes place in Amsterdam, January 20th – January 24th 2014.

More info and registration here:

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Human Centered Design Toolkit | IDEO

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Well, the IDEO group really do have a talent for developing great toolkits. The Design Thinking for Educators toolkit has long been a favourite of my. Their HDC toolkit is a great introduction to human centred research and practice that the beginner and expert will both find useful. To download the toolkit, click here

The HCD Toolkit was designed specifically for NGOs and social enterprises that work with impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The free kit walks users through the human-centered design process and supports them in activities such as building listening skills, running workshops, and implementing ideas. The process has led to innovations such as the HeartStart defibrillator, CleanWell natural antibacterial products, and the Blood Donor System for the Red Cross—all of which have enhanced the lives of millions of people.

For some inspiration watch this:

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World Design Capital Projects 2014

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The World Design Capital project for Cape Town 2014 have been announced. I’m excited that I’ll be involved in at least three recognised project but also a little scared, as all creatives know time has a sneaky way of disappearing on you. A full listing of all recognised projects are be found on the WDC Cape Town 2014 site. For convenience you can just click here.

Continue reading

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Design Research Tool

Some days I love the internet. Those days are generally characterised by an unexpected discovery. The most recent of those is the Design Research Techniques. An easy to navigate repository of ideas, tools and materials. I must say thank you to Eri, a Sydney based UX designer who commented on the brilliance of the tool, and he was not wrong! 

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“Produced by CFC Medialab as part of the IdeaBoost Accelerator in conjunction with Professor Suzanne Stein of OCAD University”




CPUT | Teaching with Technology Day 2013

The 2013 ‘Learning by Design’ workshop, presented at the CPUT’s ‘Teaching with Technology’ day, will explore the design process as a tool to develop responsive teaching and learning activities, and integrate technologies in teaching practice. The workshop uses the IDEO ‘Design Thinking for Educators’ toolkit and process method.

To download the full toolkit click here. The toolkit details the design thinking process and takes the reader step by step through the process.

Design Thinking for Educators is…A creative process that helps you design meaningful solutions in the classroom, at your school, and in your community. The toolkit provides you with instructions to explore Design Thinking.

The ‘Design Thinking for Educators’ website is a rich source of inspiration and helpful hints. The website also encourages reflection and sharing, allowing teachers and lecturers to tell their stories and read the design thinking stories of other educators.  Click here to read stories or share your views.

Tell us about what you’ve been designing! We are collecting stories of the design challenges educators have been tackling using the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit. One day your story could be highlighted here and could help others working on similar challenges. You can contribute to the overall community knowledge about how Design Thinking can help educators transform everything – from the experiences our students have to the operations of our school systems.

The workshop also highlights a few amazing TED Talk videos that explore design thinking and design. Enjoy!

How to escape education’s death valley by Sir Ken Robinson | FILMED APR 2013 • TED Talks Education

Teaching design for change by Emily Pilloton | FILMED JUL 2010 • POSTED NOV 2010 • TEDGlobal 2010

A teacher growing green in the South Bronx by Stephen Ritz | FILMED FEB 2012 • POSTED JUL 2012


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