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Collaborative design thinking

Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 15 years ago

Collaborative design thinking is a process used by designers for the practical, creative resolution of problems or issues to discover better design solutions and improve future results.


Design projects must pass through three spaces (Brown 2008) 

1) inspiration (the problem, opportunity or sense of dissatisfaction that causes us to search for solutions

2) ideation (the generation, development and testing ideas that have the may lead to solutions)

3) implementation (for the pathway that makes an idea a reality).


Design thinking involves a series of divergent and convergent steps. During divergence we are creating choices and during convergence we are making choices. For people who are looking to have a good sense of the answer, or at least a previous example of one, before they start, divergence is frustrating. It almost feels like you are going backwards and getting further away from the answer but this is the essence of creativity. Divergence needs to feel optimistic, exploratory and experimental but it often feels confusing to people who are more used to operating on a plan.


Design thinking relies on an interplay between analysisbreaking problems apart and synthesisputting ideas together. We are used to analysis in higher education and we are train our minds to do it. Synthesis is also something we value. But both are harder when we work with real world problems where there are many views on what might be a good solution.


Designers have evolved visual ways to synthesize ideas and this is another one of the obstacles for those new to design thinking: a discomfort with visual thinking. A sketch of a new product is a piece of synthesis. So is a scenario that tells a story about an experience. Design thinkers create visual frameworks for synthesis that in themselves describe spaces for further creative thinking.


The uncertainty of divergence and the integrative head-hurting complexity of synthesis are the unique characteristics of design thinking: they are what make it both challenging and liberating at the same time.


Creative Academy design thinking process

Creative Academy is formed around a problem statement thatall participants can engage with: How can I design a rich experience so that learners are inspired, empowered and enabled to use their creativity? The emphasis on I is important as this is all about individuals being able to change something in their own teaching and learning situations.  The question is written across the wall and it provides a focal point for problem solving and esign thinking.


The process begins by explaining the ideas of divergent and creative thinkingusing a simple map of the process. Framework for creative problem solving.doc . Participants ar encouraged to think about the problem from many angles by reframing the problem statement in terms of many other how can I questions.


This is how we explain the process of design thinking to participants and begin the process of desgn thinkingby questionning the problem statement

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The next step involves generating throughthe 'brain writing' technique, lots possible solutions to our problem 

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Having dumped our initial and perhaps more obvious solutions to our problem we now use a series of techniques to try to push us to come up with more unusual solutions

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You can continue to generate ideas using a variety of techniques to stimulate such thinking or you can play around and develop further ideas that have already been identified for example near the end of this video clip.

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Participants in the 2008 Creative Academy



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