The Bootcamp Bootleg materials are like designer flash cards for working to solve problems if you are really in a pinch. They provide wonderful, even unconventional approaches to exploring an issue thoroughly. What is really the kicker though is that this rich deck of ideas only skims the surface of ways to approach a design problem and think through it!
Three design-thinking methods from the Bootcamp Bootleg collection that struck me as particularly interesting are cards 6) Assume a Beginner’s Mindset, 13) Story Share-and-Capture directly accompanied by 14) Saturate and Group.
Assume a Beginner’s Mindset nearly parallels the Socratic Method of inquiry. If everything becomes questionable, elements that may not otherwise be considered for design solutions are fair game. Silly questions come to mind, such as “Why is the sky blue?” when thinking of how a child may view the world, but when trying to solve problems that need every stone turned, the simplest elements are often the most important to question. True curiosity about the world means going out and experiencing holistically. There is an agnostic avoidance of hard and fast rules as to what is beautiful and what isn’t. The long shadows cast from a structure, the conversations of people on the bus, strange vantages (from beneath the countertop) all give back an enriched sense of the world that we haven’t really lost, but have just gotten used to. I think a beginner’s mindset means to listen more empathetically as well. Rather than closing your eyes and ears to certain people, every person has an equally valid opinion about the world and what things mean. This bleeds into the method of the extreme user, but it is true – don’t only hear what the “experts” have to say. Listen to the layman, the eccentric, the hobbyist, and the enthusiast. The way a beginner’s mindset looks visually is most likely similar to a concept or mind map. It begins with a few branches from a concept and then takes on new forms as collaborative insight pours in new directions and associations. From this visualization and entirely open mode of creating, associations begin to surprise you like a beginner, seeing something truly for the fist time. This method is important to do for every design project, especially projects that have no material end and are more conceptual solutions (the types of design problems that Tony Golsby-Smith discusses). This method was taught to me directly through Professor Montero in Integrated Design Media when we were asked to consider the Socratic Method in creating a concept from the ground up. We each came up with a sensory experience that we did often but did not think about (mine was fueling up your car at a gas station). We had to describe down to the very last detail how we did that task, and by having to reevaluate it in that way, I realized how much more difficult it sounded than it was in just doing habitually. From there I was able to consider elements of the gas satin experience that could be improved from a ground up perspective. I would have otherwise probably gathered information on elements of the experience that were with a much broader stroke of understanding.
The second and third methods from the Bootcamp Bootleg are Story Share-and-Capture and Saturate and Group. Story Share-and-Capture is a regrouping of individuals after everyone in a team has gone out and done their detective work on a project. This type of scenario reminds me of the shopping cart redesign that IDEO conducted years ago (I think I also saw this in Professor Montero’s class!) The members of the IDEO team went out and examined every element of the shopping cart experience. Some got different feedback than others, but when they came together to share their stories and capture an accurate experience, the wide scope of research had really paid off. The team members were able to get a meaningful vision of what needed to be improved most. I think people naturally will notice different details when researching too. Someone may notice the types of wheels on the cart, while others realize that it is not really a good design to have the child placed in that little metal cart right behind the bars. Someone else may notice that the aisles in one store are wider than in others, making the experience of pushing the carts easier (especially with multiple people in one aisle). All of these elements become important when a group comes back together. I think without having a regroup once a project launches, there may be neglected or over focused areas without designers having a clear path. I know that in my job we have a kickoff meeting every time a new project comes up. Beyond the kickoff meeting, I wish we had a followup meeting that brought together all of the designers to discuss what was heard since sometimes parts are forgotten. Story share-and-capture is a little different in the fact that it is a large group of people working on one project versus one person within a team working on a specific job. This type of method is good for a larger organization that has multiples working on something. Saturate and group is like story share-and-capture in that it helps to take ideas that are floating around in someone’s head and put them onto paper for consideration. Sometimes an idea sounds better in your mind than being fleshed out into a design, and then different again when placed alongside other possible approaches to solving a problem. I love the idea of taking the post-it notes and placing them on the wall. At the digital retreat, we all contributed post-it notes of descriptors to refresh the defined goals of the organization’s web strategists. Seeing all of the different ideas posted together helped the group select the most appropriate ideas into a powerful list. In brainstorming a design solution, seeing the finding’s images and words helps “edit” into a strong direction. It works in a less static way than a mind map, but similarly to where some words may end up associating when placed together in this format together on a wall. These types of saturations (whether it is actually post it notes of posting images, leaves, matchbooks, scraps of paper, etc. etc.) are a good source of visual note-taking from which you can build a good reason to move forward with a design solution.