(Re) Defining and (Re) Designing

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If you haven’t seen the TED talk given by David Kelley about Design Thinking I highly recommend checking it out. It’s not uncommon for me to finish watching a TED talk and feel inspired, or sad, motivated, determined or filled with awe. It is uncommon however for me to feel all of these emotions at once, but David Kelly’s talk has done just that. Finishing Kelly’s talk left me not only with every emotion but also with a new understanding for design thinking and the good that can come out of it.

Kelley tells a story of his friend who worked in a hospital and created a MRI for patients, but was upset to find out that many children had to be put under before the MRI tested them because they were so afraid. Determined to change this Kelley’s friend employed design thinking and came up with a creative solution. He changed the entire room around the MRI and painted it to look like a pirate ship that the children would be going on. Now it was an adventure, they were told that while they were in the MRI they had to be very still because other pirates might find them. The turn around was amazing and one little girl even asked if she could come back tomorrow because she had so much fun.
I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Design thinking has always been sold to me as this wonderful idea that could solve problems in new and creative ways, and I believed that, but seeing it played out in a real world setting was completely different. I left that TED talk wondering what aspects of my life I could apply design thinking to.
Taking inspiration from Kelley and from the five elements of design thinking (empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test) I thought about what aspects of my life could use a creative solution. I decided to take the “how might we…” question from the define element and expanded it to be the question, “how might I improve my use of time?”
I really enjoy the quote from The Fast Company Article, Design Thinking…What is That? that states,”
“Design thinking in problem definition also requires cross functional insight into each problem by varied perspectives as well as constant and relentless questioning, like that of a small child, Why?, Why? Why?”
To tackle this problem I started at the first element of design thinking and began to empathize, specifically identifying the problem. I have a tendency to waste a lot of time scrolling on social media rather than doing important tasks such as homework or even tasks I enjoy doing such as artwork. Next, I defined (or more specifically re-defined) my problem and looked at it in a different light. I wasn’t scrolling aimlessly, I was catching up on the newest pop culture news of the day and seeing what I had missed since the last time I had been online.
It was at this point I had a thought, if I was so caught up in what was happening in the world, there were other more effective ways to get this information without sacrificing my time. Following into the next step, ideate, I told myself that the next time I found myself aimlessly scrolling and procrastinating I would stop, put on a relevant pop culture podcast and instead of reading my news, listen to it as I did my work.
I gave this method a shot and found some positive results, I felt plugged in to the world around me and got my daily dose of news while managing to get my homework done. However, often times my mind would wander off my work and get distracted listening to the voices. I also found that sometimes topics would be covered that I cared little about and I was tempted to go back to Twitter. Luckily for me failing is a natural occurrence in design thinking and taking things back to workshop and improve is what the test stage is all about. I look forward to seeing what I can come up with in the future and see how my thinking will evolve.

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