Applying Design Thinking To An Everyday Problem: Synthesis and Insight


Design Thinking for Business Innovation


Lesson Info

Applying Design Thinking To An Everyday Problem: Synthesis and Insight

Alright, so the next phase, usually we don't do this with the interviewee here, but we're not gonna send Matt to the next room. We're just gonna leave you here so you can, kind of, turn off the interviewee mode, and you're just another student. But feel free to stay up here, but just to engage the rest of the class and everybody in the audience, live on the internet, is now we wanna make sense of what we've heard. So, we're starting to do a little bit of synthesis now, as we're going to turn this into a specific question and a creative brief that we're gonna solve. And some profile that summarizes all of the things that we've heard from Matt so far. That will help us focus on a specific problem space that is solvable, right? Because you have a lot of issues, not like-- (both laughing) Not in the sort of therapy way, but just like anybody doing something creative and just figuring out life, right? Has a lot of things, and we're not gonna solve all of them but I think we can focus on thi...

ngs. And the way to help us focus and triangulate on this stuff, is, so, in a real world context, we've conducted this interview, we've taken our notes, we might've done an audio recording or video, then we share it with the team, especially people who weren't in the room at the time, because of scheduling logistics or because we didn't wanna stress out the person we were interviewing, which you've been doing great at. And then we try to make sense of it as designers in our own studio, in our own office, and this can involve Post-its or just a meeting where we're starting to make sense of things. So, one way to make sense of this is looking at, and Carlos, you've already started doing this and a couple of folks have started doing this, looking at emotion, right? What are some of these peaks and troughs of emotion? Looking at triumphs, but also looking at pain points, and looking at... Where you can need help, right? Another animal mascot to help you think about this is the vulture, where you're looking for pain and suffering. And it doesn't have to be in this exploitative way, it could be more... Emotional and metaphorical, in that sense, of pain and suffering, not the stereotypical suffering artist. You also wanna look at tensions and contradictions. So, maybe, you said something but then done something else that doesn't quite compute. And it's not because Matt's a liar, or that anybody's a liar, but it's just that people, we're not like, nobody is 100% rational, right? They'll try to make some story, some sort of narrative to make sense of what they're doing, but then they may do something else, or they may not realize that there's that contradiction. But maybe, with the external distance we have, we can surface that contradiction. And so, for example, sorry, the final thing is then, also, just mapping things out. So, you may be taking notes with just words but sometimes this is the time with the synthesis where you wanna sketch out your notes and try to make sense of things, whether it's a Venn diagram or a flowchart, to really help model out some of Matt's story and Matt's world. So, I'll start with some of the tensions and contradictions, and some of the things that I've noted, and a little bit of this mapping that I've started. And then encourage you guys here, in the studio audience, students here, and then students all over the world, to chime in if you have any, sort of, insights. Alright, so, this is synthesis and insights. The first one, I think, is a map, which is a mental map in my head where you clearly laid out, your work here at Creative Live, which I thought was super interesting that you called a passion project, which people typically say for the things that they're not getting paid to do. Ha, right. And then you had these very specific use cases or habits around your art, which is, you said, something you make time for. And then your music, which is something you often do as a procrastination. So, right now, we could sketch this out in terms of the mental model of how you think about things, that's unique to you but can resonate, probably, with a lot of people in creative fields. So, that's one thing that could be a document, could be part of our research notes and insights that we can use, that will carry us on later. I think, if I were to surface one preliminary tension or contradiction is, you talking about... The relative lack, or presence, of external validation and goalless-ness, because it seems like you do have specific, you said, you often feel goalless, but then it sounds like you do have a specific goal of doing something internationally to show your work. Right, which is like... Makes sense, in terms of, that contradiction. So, that's something where maybe I do a followup interview and try to understand that more, or we'll just kind of leave that at face value of, okay, something international would be of value to you, and we can come back to it later on in our ideation and definition phase. Are there any tensions or anything that you guys have come up with? Or any sort of models? Mental models? Or emotional peaks or troughs that we could surface right now? Looks like we've got one. Yeah, we've got one. I was just thinking about making time, like the words that are, you know, making time versus procrastinating, and thinking, making time is kind of like an expression, that there's this motivation, this draw, that kind of, is a an alive thing. And so, I was kind of drawn to that kind of contradiction between okay, there is a difference between this painting and jazz expression and... Yeah, and just thinking about how that might motivate, you know, think about following your bliss. It's like a thing, like Joseph Campbell, I think, said a lot. And that's an interesting, you know, that's a very open-ended, not necessarily, deadline base, sort of thing, too. So, I feel like there's a contradiction there or something. You know, deadlines might help to make something happen and yet, maybe they also constrain personal expression. So, it was just some things Yeah. that are coming up. I think that's really helpful to think about these as centers of gravity that we can make choices to optimize for, right? So, when you're trying to, later on, when we're trying to define our problem space, it's really helpful to think about what is the one thing that we're trying to optimize for. And right now, there's several things that we could possibly optimize for, and riffing on what you've been talking about, Carlos, one is like time, and just thinking about designing solutions that help deal with time, manage time, hack time, however that works. We've also talked about bliss, or flow, in the Csikszentmihalyi way, right? Of feeling flow in creative pursuits or work that is satisfying, or fulfilling. And then, so we can optimize for that and we can also optimize for connection, maybe? Making it more social, feeling like you're doing art, showing art in a community, and then maybe related to that is also optimizing for internationalization on a scale. Alright, so, all of these are possible paths and new forks that we can go down and make choices around once we start making sense of this. Any other observations or themes, tensions? Yes, Dean. I observed a theme and maybe it's a tension around, possibly, collaboration. Cause in fact, you do set a time, even though it's killing time, as you called it, to get together with friends and improvise on jazz. And then you do talk about art, where you have a deadline, and didn't do it, and yet you come to work everyday and meet deadlines all the time. Sure, right. But if you, is there some opportunity perhaps, collaborating on the art side that would get you, you're thinking of collaboration as kind of an end state, part of the scaling up would be being part of that community, but could that also be, kind of, part of how you get there? Maybe find some artist to collaborate with and just you know, set a date and do an event together, something like that. Yeah, perhaps. It's just an idea. Yeah. And that's another idea for the parking lot of ideas later on, right? Yeah, for later. Which is really great, right? And so, and this also helps us understand when we think about that wheel of discover, define, idea, prototype testing, it's really hard to run only one mode at once. It's our natural instincts to be like, hey, I'm trying to learn stuff about Matt. And it's hard as humans with empathy to not want to try to solve his problem. So, I'm not trying to like, there's no slap on the wrist for anyone, I do it all the time, sometimes, I lead the witness when I'm doing these interviews. It's not a bad thing but part of understanding the process is understanding, sort of, where you are and where you wanna focus at any given time, right? And as you build your own instinct and practice of design thinking, you'll know when you can like, once you know the rules, you can break the rules a little bit, or know where you can kind of push in one area and it still works with the user or the research that you're conducting. Yes, HD. So, I think my, I think the biggest a-ha moment was when you were sharing your different products that you stumbled upon, and how the high that you got, that you called it. And so, for me, what I saw was a feedback loop, somehow using your creativity, your art, and your music as... As a way of delivering this value and getting that feedback back, I think, it sounded like that was the problem that we're trying to solve is, how do you establish that loop from creation to feedback? Yeah, I think feedback is another theme, or keyword, that's really important for what we're doing, right now, in terms of, making sense of these notes. And I really liked also what you were saying with this a-ha moment. So, in a lot of design, product design, surface design, in general, I think there's now this overused buzz word of designing for delight. Which is actually part of the original tag line at Foousus which we've gotten rid of because I think we've reached peak delight. Cause if you're delighted all the time, you'll never be delighted. But I think it's also helpful when you're doing this contextual inquiry and user research to think about these a-ha moments, as you mentioned, but also these oh no moments, or the expletive version of that. And then also the oh wow versions, like the oh wow moments, as well, of thinking about, like I mentioned before, these emotional peaks and emotional troughs, both in terms of the stories that Matt is sharing with us but then later on in the process, to think about how do we replicate those or how do we amplify those scaled lows, in the ideas that we're defining, right? And so, this is also another part where we have to jump back and forth in time, or in that loop of the design thinking process, of we're just documenting stuff and creative material, and insight, that we'll use later. And we're not sure how to make sense of it yet, but we're just getting it down there. Any other themes? Yes, Jelon. I find it curious that you talk about art, the graphic part of it, but when you say that you are creating music with your friends, it's not art. Whereas to me, I mean that's one of the grand forms of art, is to be able to create harmony with other people. And I put that also in a category, I'm linking this also with the isolation that you talk about, where you carve out time, you isolate time, to make, to draw, or whatever art, your paintings, whatever. And that sounds like a very lonely endeavor. And that the creation of music with your friends is something that happens instantaneously. Yeah, that's a great point and it is a... In fact, I think of it, exactly the... The way, that ironic way, that you described it, is that, yeah, music doesn't feel like art to me but art feels like art to me, even though, yeah, you can see them as opposites that way. I mean, also, as we're doing this exercise, feel free to psychoanalyze me, trust me, I can take it. So, if you're-- I think we have an actual shrink. Yeah, right? So, that's a great little inaccuracy, or little strange bit of friction that I have around all of it, yeah. Yeah, I think that's, yeah, another interesting tension or spectrum that you've pulled out. We're looking for these tensions, contradictions, and spectrums of the social versus the communal, right? And how he maps, in his mind, his music or his visual art to different social or communal interactions, and touch points, I think is really interesting. And I would add to that, that I find interesting, from what I heard, you like to do portraits and you're really good at it. And that's connecting with others. Yeah, that's true. Yeah, I think connection is another great keyword for our synthesis of these design ideas. I think another, just pedagogical note, right? We've been conducting this interview/demo, in a, kind of, artificial environment and also doing this synthesis in an artificial environment, like in front of our client, which we sometimes would do in this discussion, so it's very much a hybrid. But another important part of contextual inquiry is actually going to where Matt is doing his work, so, if we weren't making live television, we would go and see, you know, Matt's desk here at Creative Live. We'd go and see, maybe, your music studio, or your art studio, as well, and understand that. So, that's also part of the research process and for that, we'll often bring people to take pictures, whether just with a cellphone or with a higher fidelity camera and use that, right? So, this is also data for your research of seeing how does he actually arrange his space? How does he manage that? And that's part of it. So, that's kind of missing from what we're able to show in demo here, but that is also contextual inquiry. That's really important, right? This, sort of, sterile lab environment of getting people to come in for a focus group, is not the kind of thing that we're going for. Usually as design researchers, we wanna go to where the people are in their native habitats. Maybe just one final word from you, Matt, since you've been... Really good at being both the interview subject, the client, and also engaging as a member of this class, whether, sort of, insights that you got just from our questions in this interview. Yeah, I mean, pointing out some of the contradictions that I had around time, and around the getting to the feedback of it, and around value judgments, around... Connecting with other people but then having very clear, scheduled connections with people that I don't consider part of the art, or the endeavor, that stuff is really interesting. To see how those all things map up and think about them, and I guess, yeah, just a listen in during this conversation, I've thought, oh okay. And I've also had of a more, sort of, rich idea of what scaling up means cause in our initial briefing, I think I was just kind of like, yeah, man, I wanna do this more and bigger. I wanna go big! I didn't really have a good idea of what that meant. And I think just through this conversation, I'm like, oh, okay, now, I'm starting to get what the vectors of sacling up might start to look like. Yeah. So, yeah. So, I'm glad, even in our discovery phase, we've unintentionally, maybe, done some potential idea surface, some ideation. So, that's great. And then, just a couple final notes about, in a real world context, right? So, this is a pretty short interview/demo, but if we were going deep with someone like Matt, we'd probably go 90 minutes, two hours or more, in his native habitats. And then also talk to other people, but for the sake of this class, we're gonna demo this as, sort of, designing for one user. But there's probably a lot of Matt's story that is applicable to a lot of different people, but just a note about that, in terms of, the breath of our research and how we're not doing that for this demo but we would in a real life situation.

Class Description

You know that one of the top trends in business innovation these days is design thinking. Only problem is, you’re not quite sure what it is. You’ve heard it described in a bunch of different ways, and you’re starting to wonder if no one else understands it either.

But the truth is, design thinking is one of the most effective new methods and mindsets for framing and solving problems. Top businesses, organizations, consultancies, schools and governments are adopting it as a way to innovate their processes and service offerings, using human empathy, design principles, action-oriented solutions, imagination, intuition and systematic reasoning.

Taught by Lee-Sean Huang, cofounder and creative director of Foossa, a community-centered design consultancy, this course will help you understand what design thinking is and how to apply it to your own work and life.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Identify the key design thinking techniques.
  • Utilize design thinking in your professional life.
  • Get hands-on experience with design thinking principles.
  • Become an advocate for design thinking within your organization.
  • Separate the truth of design thinking from the media hype.
  • Use design thinking to innovate and create new business opportunities.


Carlos Encalada

This course was exactly what I was looking for! As a psychotherapist looking to enter the world of design and facilitation, this primer for design thinking set up the facilitation workshop perfectly. Dynamic workshop. Grateful to Lee-Sean for sharing his process.