How to solve problems like a designer

How to solve problems like a designer


This is the first Apple computer mouse. It came with Apple’s ten thousand dollar Lisa computer, and it was designed by a product design consulting firm that would eventually become known as IDEO. The assignment was straightforward: they had to take the computer mouse — a 400-dollar device at the time — and bring it down to
under 35 bucks, make it mass-producible, and reliable. And above all, it needed to be simple. [Apple commercial] “We control these so, by pointing to these images on the screen with this unique item called a mouse.” Fast forward about thirty years, and IDEO
doesn’t really create products anymore. They’ve transitioned to designing networks and experiences — things like Los Angeles’ voting system, and the Red Cross’s method for finding donors — even entire schools. So what does making a computer mouse have to do with creating a school system from scratch? It turns out, quite a lot. [Tim Brown] “The world we live in is one where, really, the complex things are the things that are mostly broken.” “Not the simple things.” “We have lots of great products, lots of beautiful products.” “Lots of products we can use everyday, everything from furniture to tableware, to consumer electronics.” “— and they’re mostly pretty good, right?” “Yes, there’s opportunity to do better, and
to do more, but I’m interested in things that” “don’t work very well, and the things that
you can impact society with.” “And they’re mostly the more complex things.” Back in 1971, a designer named Victor Papanek wrote a book called, “Design For The Real World”. The premise was pretty simple: creators could take some of the same design strategies from the creation of industrial products and use them to tackle problems like pollution, overcrowding, and food shortages. By 2001, IDEO had done just that, pivoting
from products to real world experiences. But the design steps? Tim Brown says they stay just about the same. “The first piece is observing the world
in order to ask an interesting question, right?” “I mean, you could observe the world in lots of different ways — when we talk about human-centered design,” “we’re really talking about observing the way humans live their lives and asking” “interesting questions about, ‘Hey, why does somebody do this? And not that?’ “Why is somebody struggling with this problem?” “Why is it hard for somebody to open that, why are they struggling to open up that jam jar lid?” “Maybe I could redesign the jam jar, or
maybe I could give them a tool to help them, right?” “So why is this happening?” So, the first step is looking at the world and coming up with good question.” For making a mouse, that means watching how people use computers, observing what they want, and what they don’t. For designing a school, that meant spending a month in Peru, meeting with students, parents, teachers, investors, and government and business leaders to address needs like academic planning, modular classroom space, accessible technology and affordable tuition. “The next step is taking all the insights
that you have from those questions, and starting to imagine ideas—” “Like here’s what I could do, here’s what I might imagine doing better, or differently.” ” So, that’s what we often call ideation or ideamaking.” Then comes the fun part. You test it out. “Right at the beginning of the process might be a really simple cardboard model, or a quick sketch.” “Or if it’s digital, it might be a quick digital simulation, or something, and you try out on people.” Sometimes those drafts can be pretty rough — the first prototype for the mouse was a roll-on deodorant stick and a butter dish
from a Palo Alto Walgreens. “And you test it. If that doesn’t work okay, so I need to rethink my idea and I do it again.” “And this is where the iteration comes in:
you learn from the prototype, you realize what’s not working.” “Or maybe it’s a crummy idea and you have to go back and find a new idea again.” “And you go through that loop over and over again: asking the question, having ideas,” “prototyping, learning and until you get to something that truly meets somebody’s needs, or a set of people’s needs.” “Now the last bit of the process… which arguably happens in that iteration also, is the storytelling piece.” Because always you’re trying to explain to people why your idea is interesting.” [Apple commercial: “A computer for the rest of us.” “I think what you need to design a complex system is not one brain — you need lots of brains.” “You need lots of brains with different perspectives different creative contributions, working together” “to get to an outcome that is that
is literally rich enough, and sophisticated enough” “to be able to behave like a system, instead of being like an object.”


100 thoughts on “How to solve problems like a designer

  1. Designers don't solve problems, they design products. They encounter problems during the design process, but they solve those problems to reach their end goal: a product that reaches the specifications they were given.

  2. Well people have problems with jars because they are idiots….
    There are a vaccum in the jar and lifting up the edge of the lid with something, anything, will let the air in and the lid will just pop off.
    No need to invent a new lid…..

  3. The "design loop" is really just the scientific method as applied to consumer goods and consumer happiness.
    People really need to understand that whether you're trying to figure out how to cure malaria or whether you're trying to make a better phone, the best approach is always to observe, formulate hypotheses/ideas, test them, and iterate.

  4. This is pretty much what Systems Thinking and Design Thinking is about. Most commonly known as iterative design, I think quite a lot of people already have accepted this design process. considering systems and design thinking are pretty much the same with just different semantics.

  5. So liberals rather solve things like a designer rather than solving things like a scientist? No wonder liberals are pathetic.

  6. This is similar to the classic planning process. The sequencing is different because we present a variety of alternatives at once.

  7. The video absolutely misses a critical part of "designing" social policy. You really can't just test any idea like a product. For many reason, but here in the USA mainly ethical and 14th Amendment related ones, you can't just try out new ideas on people because you're mandated to treat everyone equally under the law. For example, it would be difficult to design a program to test UBI at the federal level because it would be hard to argue you weren't giving preferential treatment to one group over another, which could lead to a lawsuit. Social and governmental policy are especially tricky simply due to the general lack of ability to run tests and iterate policy on small groups.

  8. I love how I paid 14000 dollars for my engineering tuition to take a course cause engineering design where we learn exactly this: problem statement, problem definition, concept generation, concept selection and prototype, and testing
    Good I'm glad

  9. so…. when does the second part comes out? I need comparisons of how that proccess aplied to items and systems alike. Give me cases, failures, successes, etc.

  10. This process isn't as good as it market itself as. After having done this innumerable times I can say that rarely does good ideas come of this.

  11. I study design and honestly, IDEO is overrated. Almost all design school now teach design thinking(how to solve a problem) instead of design itself. I want to MAKE design not just THINKING all the time. If you break down the IDEO method you will find that it is just a way for designers to speak design in a language that no one can understand. It just sounds fancy AF that's all.

  12. I can't believe I just watched a full 4:50 of words and sentences and images managing to say absolutely nothing at all

  13. Aka "how to solve problems like a scientist" aka "how to solve problems systematically" aka "how to solve problems."

  14. Quality content as always. The idea creation is not just applied to Designers, but to almost all creative professions as well. Engineers

  15. Wow the were kind of slow this is called the scientific method which this time was a few hundred years old. The mouse would not exist with out the GUI.

  16. this video was exactly what I was trying to explain to someone, and they didn't get it no matter how long I explained it, but this video is really useful and I'll share it with that person!

  17. the process described is the standard process at even boring corporations when something new needs to be created: assess/observe, design/develop, test, iterate.

  18. I really like the concept of design but I have a problem with some of the ways that it goes about testing and getting feedback from 'users'. For example, my university designed and constructed a "state of the art learning facility", however after attending a meeting about ways to use the space more efficiently, it seemed as though the professors were still dealing with classic college problems like students on their phones or just poor attendance- they had certainly improved the physical environment for learning, but not nearly the root of the problem. I understand the need for design for innovative purposes like making the computer mouse more affordable, but the vicious circle of improving things seems like a distraction in other areas of design- especially with smartphones nowadays. I think Tim Brown perfectly describes the positive side of design- finding what doesn't work and more importantly how that can impact society.

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