Just a Little Something To Say “I Was Thinking of You”

In my previous post about Design Thinking I mentioned how everybody should be using the Design Thinking process to solve their problems. I recently got to try my own advice firsthand and tackle a problem, specifically how to redesign the gift giving process, by using Design Thinking.

For this assignment there was a twist, we wouldn’t be fixing the process for ourselves but instead for our partner, in my case I had Shelley. To start I asked Shelley some generic questions: what was the last present you purchased? She answered that she bought her husband a t-shirt. I followed with asking her why she bought the t-shirt, why she had chosen that specific t-shirt and if her husband liked the gift. I found out that she had purchased him the shirt because he often times will wear stained shirts without realizing it, so she wanted him to have something clean to wear. As for the style, she picked it out because it was Dungeons and Dragons related so she knew he would love it, and he did.

The next round of interviewing meant I had to dig deeper. I asked Shelley if she often felt like she was buying necessities for people and making sure they take care of themselves through gifts. She answered that yes she did this often; she wanted to make sure he looked presentable because he sometimes forgets.

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This led nicely into the next part of the assignment, capturing the needs of Shelley and what she’s trying to accomplish through her gifts. We were encouraged to use verb words so I used words like cater, nourish, supply, sustain and cherish.

So, looking back at everything I had collected at this point led me to the next step, defining the problem statement. Since I knew that Shelley had a desire to provide people with necessities that are often forgettable I wanted my problem statement to reflect that. In the end my problem statement reads as follows, “Shelley need a way to provide necessities for people she loves because she wants to make sure the often forgotten about basics are being taken care of.” I felt like, using empathy, this was a logical statement from the original t-shirt gift given as a result of sloppiness.

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Next up is the phase I have the most fun with, ideation. An old professor of mine told me this was the part of the experiment where I should “go as crazy and stupid” with my solutions as possible. That meant that I had incredible ideas like a mind reading helmet and a slot machine that spits out presents. Realistic? Not really, but that was the point! Shelley was excited by all of them, but specifically my dice idea. Basically, using inspiration from her and her husband’s love for Dungeons and Dragons, I created a dice that would have a different need on each side. For example, one side for food, sleep, hydration, showering, etc.

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In the end I decided on my first idea, the dice that you could roll and a different basic need would appear as an icon on the dice side. The idea behind this is that if you have a love one in mind you can roll the dice and say it lands on eat, you can think back to them mentioning their favorite restaurant and get them a gift card to there to remind them to eat and to treat themselves. In addition to that I decided to add a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet that would ask some basic questions about the person you’re getting a gift for, to help spark any other ideas for presents.

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Then came the difficult part, actually building a prototype. With limited amounts of time, sticky notes and a lot of tape I started to build my dice. I wanted to make it a special Dungeons and Dragons dice that had more sides than a regular dice but I quickly realized I didn’t have to time for that. Regardless, I think it came out alright, even if you could roll the dice and end up with multiple answers, oops.

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At the end of this experiment I felt accomplished in what I had done. I think I really listened to what Shelley had explained to me and I took what she said to heart. This was a great way to practice Design Thinking in a low stakes environment while still getting a feel for it. If I could do something differently, I would probably ask more broad questions next time. Regardless, I still got a lot out of this exercise and would recommend it to anybody.

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