Join Turi McKinley for an in-depth discussion in this video Tangibility: Making complexity visual, part of Learning Design Thinking: Lead Change in Your Organization.
- There are lots of ways that ideas are made tangible, but they generally fall into two categories. Quick prototypes meant to be shared and iterated upon, and these can be paper prototypes to scale models or semi-coded interactions. And visual representations that help manage complexity and reveal the bigger picture. You often see these as frameworks or diagrams, like ecosystem models, journey maps, and storyboards. If you aren't already comfortable with making visual analogies and capturing the relationship between details and the longview on a napkin or a whiteboard, I highly recommend you explore building your whiteboarding skills.
When we're working with complex information, we can often draw shortcuts with symbols like icons or simple models and a few words to express these relationships. And these shortcuts let us mentally bucket the information that went into each piece, so that we can step back and talk about the bigger picture. For example, we were working on a problem in the U.S. education system, and we were talking to teachers, principals, and state and local assessment directors.
We needed to understand the motivations and needs of each of these types of participants, as well as where the information in the system went. So we started, in our team room, drawing out the state folks, the district, the principals, the teachers, and the students, and thinking about what information they needed and how they were feeling. And we started to find that there was really a very hierarchical relationship of those different people.
So we put state on top and kind of listed out our different characteristics. And as we were going through this, we started to find that some things began to be very clear. So we started to realize that one of the reasons students were so stressed out by the system was that each of the other players in the system has tests and is putting things in place to try to make sure that they get good results. But by the time that comes down to the student, the student is doing a ton of work.
The next step was to ask why. Why is this happening? So we looked at the student here... and we started to realize... that the reason all this is happening, it's not that anybody has a negative point of view, but up here are State... and Federal folks, who are saying, "We want to see education improve." And they're really driving this cycle of a state test, the district needing to put benchmarks in, to make sure everybody's doing well.
And that puts pressure on the principal, to make sure that they've got the right tracking of the students, and the teacher with all the different assessments that they're putting in place for the student. So learning becomes all about testing. You can now step back from this board, and the visual here really highlights why that's going on. So, the diagram helped us clarify our final story. We eventually took this off the whiteboard and clarified it for the client.
And it's become part of how they think about the problem that they're trying to solve. We did this, because we had space to do it. We were working together on whiteboarding. And while taking space does get time, building your skills in sketching the longview and navigating complexity is something you can start on today. So I encourage you to think about how you can grow your skills in whiteboarding and sketching. Check out things like The 7 Elements of Graphic Facilitation by Bigger Picture on Youtube.
It's a really good introduction to these basics. And then share your sketches in the course community. I'd love to see what you're working on. And there are also places like The Noun Project to see how big ideas can be summarized as simple icons. And I've got all these links in the exercise files. Final thought is: Never think that you can't draw. This is not about being perfect. It's about what's revealing what's important, so the whole group can think it through together.
The course opens with a definition of design thinking, including the roles and spaces required for success. You will then learn how to be a good design thinking leader, with specific advice on topics from setting goals to engaging the different skill sets and personalities in the room (introverts and extroverts alike). Next, Turi dives into creative collaboration: the heart of design thinking. She covers planning, research, and concept creation, and explains how to create a "service blueprint" that will help make the design a reality. Chapter 4 introduces prototyping techniques to advance the design.
Design thinking is all about collaboration so we've integrated a LinkedIn Group called "Design Thinking: frog + Lynda.com course." Throughout the course, the author will suggest opportunities for you to share what you're learning. You'll be able to participate in course-related discussions through your web browser at https://linkedin.com/groups/7022790 or via the LinkedIn Groups app, which is available for most smartphones. This is a great way to expand your learning and get additional insights from other members taking the course.
- Defining design thinking
- Implementing a design thinking mindset and approach
- Leading design thinking
- Aligning the design team
- Managing creative flow
- Guiding collaboration
- Generating hypothesis
- Prototyping fast and often
- Making a culture change