Maybe, I’ve left it too late

A one-hour introduction to design thinking can’t be designed in 5 minutes or in an hour.  I’m feeling the pressure, with very little time to go before I have to facilitate the session and only the barest outline of what to cover that is high-quality, engaging, informative, useful and quick to design.  Maybe, I’ve left it too late to do a good design job.

Years ago, when I first got involved in the world of computer based training I read somewhere that it took 40 hours of designing to get 1 hour of instructional material ready to deliver.  Now, with so many channels of delivery – omni-channels, even – has this estimate increased or decreased?  I don’t know, and thinking about it is taking away from the time that I have – closer to 40 minutes than 40 hours –  to design the one hour I am facilitating next week.

So, what to do? How can I accelerate the design of my workshop in the time I’ve got on the train, where there is very limited internet access to pull up resources?  I definitely do not have the time to go through the 5-step design thinking process – empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test – that will result in a brilliantly designed session.  Not good role-modeling here.

Maybe I can do a 60-minute version of the 90-minute Stanford D-School virtual crash course in design thinking? It’s got a facilitator guide, video and worksheets.  Presumably the course has been through the design thinking process itself.

And that takes me to Natasha Zen’s argument that ‘Design thinking is bullshit’.  She makes the case that formalising and commoditising a 5-step process that has underpinned design work over ages is limiting. As the blurb says, ‘In her provocative 99U talk, Jen lobbies for the “Crit” over the “Post-It” when it comes to moving design forward.’

She has a point on this.  ‘Design thinking’ could be on the verge of being dismissed as a fad as it has been hyped so much in the last few years.

Perhaps going down a ‘principles’ approach would be more fruitful?  That avoids the predictability of following a 5-step process and there are some interesting design principles to critique.  I already have them on my laptop which makes things easier.  Dieter Rams’s, John Maeda’s and the Global Agenda on Design Council’s.  We could critique them in relation to some objects participants have with them in the room – a pen or a pencil?

I’m still undecided.  I’ve now got several ideas, and others have just landed in my in-box via LinkedIn’s Design Thinking Community.  Someone is looking for some good tips on ‘quick, 5 min fun activities or games that could be conducted to introduce design thinking to a diversified audience (divided into very small clusters, as small as 1-3)’, and others have weighed in with suggestions.   I like the piece on questions from Mastermindset.

Good, I’m forming a bit of a sequence and an outline.  I can start off with a definition of design, then do a short activity where they critique an object against one of the sets of design principles.

I’ll then move on to a short video on design thinking.  There are two I’ve used before that give good summaries: one Design Thinking by Daylight Design, a 4 minute intro video and the other a trailer for a film Design & Thinking.

From this we can go into the 5-phase method and do a variant of the crash course when the participants design something relevant to them as users.  The thing that springs to mind is a better room booking experience – maybe because I’ve just been bumped from a booked room with no warning or explanation.

I’ll ask a couple of colleagues if they think that will work, give it a go as a minimum viable product, and learn from what happens.

How would you design an hour’s introduction to design thinking?  Let me know.

Image from: Margaret Kagan, Open Law Lab