Angela's Reflection on Week 4

Question: How has Design Thinking changed your perspective on the site you’re building or a problem you’re trying to solve?

Image Source:  YoungsDay

Image Source: YoungsDay

My key takeaway from the Design Thinking workshop is that I need to empathize more and fear less. Prior to this workshop, I would always make sure my designs were polished before showing it to a client. What I've learned is that I need to let that go and take that pressure off myself. That I should brainstorm over possibilities -- even ones that may not seem to make complete sense or look perfect, then work and re-work my way toward a solution with my clients.

Before the Workshop

As a designer, my job is to visually tell a story -- to send a message or feeling to an audience with little to no words conveying what a product, company, or persona is about.

Image Source:  Squidoo

Image Source: Squidoo

I normally use a design brief whenever I start a new project to get inside the client's head about his/her needs and goals, and what the company is about. I see each project as a collaboration between me and my client, where my job is to listen while their job is to express their desires. I call this type of conversation a Creative Meeting. From this creative meeting, I take notes, listen a lot, and make sure I understand their problem before even putting pencil to paper.

After I get a better understanding of my client's needs, then I start sketching out ideas, using the design brief and an inspiration board that I fill with images. Once I generate a group of sketches I feel confident about, I then compile a small presentation of my designs and submit them to my client. I cannot help but want to have things be as close to perfect as possible before I let anyone see it. My clients, in turn, provide feedback (again a lot of listening here), and we work collaboratively to hone in on an art direction that gets us to our final product.

This is what I thought was the ideal process prior to this workshop.

Design Thinking Rocked My World

I really enjoyed our the Design Thinking exercise with Molly. It was an amazing experience, where we worked with a partner to re-imagine how new moms might access resources. With only 4 minutes to complete each step of the Design Thinking process, I was so nervous I felt like I was in college again!

But at the end of the exercise I was happy to hear that my partner thought I had listened to her, got her problem, and found a solution she could see herself using! Molly mentioned in her lecture that Design Thinking is an, “Awesome set of skills everyone has inside themselves.” I felt that by empathizing with my collaborator, it motivated me to want to solve her problem even more!

After the Workshop

Molly -- and this exercise really -- has inspired me to integrate more empathy into the way I approach my work. I loved how Molly put it, “Human Centered Design: Solving Real-World Problems.” That's what she really does, and it's obvious she thrives on it. Now I, too, can see that with more empathy, I can get to the root of problems that my clients may not even see for themselves.

Through this experience, I've also realized that I need to fear failure less. In fact, I should fail more often and fail faster because getting lots of ideas out there -- even if they aren't perfect -- will enable me to move toward a suitable solution sooner.

Screenshot 2014-03-13 14.30.09.png

Overall, this experience has left me feeling more confident about my ability as a designer in that I've already got a pretty good handle on the most important skill required: being a great listener.

I plan on applying the lessons I've learned through this Design Thinking workshop to the website I'm building for this pilot. And when it comes time to present my work to the world, I will let go of that need of to be perfect. Perhaps without perfectionism, I will allow myself to be more creative in the future.

You can find Angela on Twitter @alaoceano.