I found the guide produced by the d.school of Stanford to be a very informative and insightful document on the Creative Process. Through Mindsets, Modes and Methods, the guide outlines teachings that impart the Design Thinking methodology employed by many designers, educators, and creative teams. There are a variety of practical methods described that they have gathered from a wide range of people and organizations.
First, I was intrigued by the Modes outlined as they don’t fully articulate my own creative process, but I found them insightful. My own process starts with Discovery, which seemed to be missing in the Modes outlined, or perhaps this outline is meant to start AFTER the Discovery process is completed. For me, in the Discovery phase I am meeting with the client to determine the exact scope of work and then writing it out to make sure the client and I are on the same page.
After that, my second step is Research. In this step I am looking into several things: The Client’s business, their competition and the audience we are trying to reach. It seems that the modes Empathy and Define are both covered in my Research step, however I really like how the guide puts a detailed emphasis on each.
My third step is Concept development, then I move into Design/Production, and lastly Revisions until approved to deliver to Vendor. Steps 3-5 outlined in the guide (Ideate, Prototype, and Test) touch upon aspects of the final steps in my process, but go into much greater depths in many areas and don’t touch at all on some of the activities that I do.
Looking through the various Methods in this guide, I noticed that several of them referred to field-work with users. I found that interesting as I have never had the opportunity as a designer to engage in field work with users at all. I have only really seen that performed at larger firms and usually by people on the Account side or in a Research dept. The extent of my own experience in field-work usually involves touring the client’s place of business to learn more about the company and their products/services.
A couple of Methods jumped out at me that were of particular interest that I will use in the future related to Brainstorming:
How May We … (HMW) Questions to facilitate the brainstorming process with my team is one practical and useful approach. I liked how this method will allow me to start with my own Point of View statements, break the large questions up into smaller actionable pieces and get better ideas from the group that are focused on solving specific design challenges.
The Saturate and Group method was also one that I found to be a really cool brainstorming idea. In this method, thoughts and experiences from the field-work are written down on post-it-notes and put up on the wall (Saturate). Then connections and similarities are drawn from the notes; they get organized and placed together to synthesize the information into related groupings and patterns (Group). I can see that this method will be very helpful in facilitating idea generation with my team and organizing peoples experiences and insights into themes that can be built upon.
There were several other methods that jumped out at me as well. What, How, Why questions to analyze photos, as well as creating a Composite Character Profile as a way to understand an average user were two methods that I will incorporate into my working processes where applicable.