1. January 28, 2015

    There’s a big difference between the way teams collaborate when they’re in a facilitated design workshop and when they’re left to their own devices.

    In many instances the difference is clear, and there are observable behaviors that illustrate it: Is the team seated or standing? Are all teammates actively participating? Is there more action or talk of taking action? Are teammates rushing around or lallygagging?

    I have a hypothesis around this: during a facilitated workshop each minute is accounted for. This means time and energy are shaped with enormous intention. On the other hand, a typical mid-week work meeting can be an amorphous, group-improvised mess that lacks energy, alignment, or action.

    Frequently, when teams get a small dose of design thinking through a facilitated workshop, they walk away feeling as if they can embody design thinking in everything they do. That feeling often doesn’t translate to a change in their mode of working, however. In other words, they might change the subject or setting of a meeting, for example, but not the way the meeting itself is conducted.

    Some of the most highly-functioning design teams I’ve ever seen prioritize alignment around what mode of working they need to be in, for how long, and to what end. So, how can we give those new to design thinking the same tools and, more importantly, help them realize their creative agency in designing how their meetings are conducted?

    Here’s my attempt to act on my hypothesis and bridge the gap between experienced and novice design teams when it comes to conducting a great work session. Consider this little framework as a fill-in-the-blank guide and script that can be applied to any work session (and adapted in any direction to suit your needs):

    (Adam Selzer)

    Feel free to click on the image to see a larger version or right click to save it to your desktop. (Adam Selzer)

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  2. January 23, 2015
    Sometimes constraints can be a great way to spark new ideas. (Photo by Flickr user Nana B Agyei)

    Sometimes constraints can be a great way to spark new ideas. (Photo by Flickr user Nana B Agyei)

    I am currently in the middle of writing another, longer piece (well, two really), but I was reminded of something I often forget in design work: introduce fun constraints during brainstorming.

    Often, we think of constraints in negative terms. They are limits or boundaries that introduce an opportunity for judgment and correction. But constraints can be really fun and spark ideas your mind may not otherwise settle on. I even wrote about one this week centered around a famous fast-food chain.

    Here are some others I have heard today during a class visit:

    • All new ideas must involve a tree
    • Everything must be pink
    • It has to cost $1 million
    • It must involve a microchip

    The list goes on. When was the last time you introduced a design constraint during a brainstorm? Let us know in the comments.

  3. January 20, 2015
    Selections from our value-menu class prototype. (Emi Kolawole)

    Selections from our value-menu class prototype. (Emi Kolawole)

    Members of the d.school’s winter-quarter teaching community gathered in Studio 2 at the end of the first week of classes. The topic: improving the d.school classes application process.

    The workshop focused primarily on the application process, but it naturally veered into how d.school classes were put together. I worked with three other members of the d.school community on a prototype for one particular type of class offering. It was prompted when one of our team members asked as we were brainstorming, “What would McDonald’s do?”

    That got us thinking about the fast-food restaurant’s menu. What if a class was offered in the form of a fast-food value menu? If one person wanted fries and a double cheeseburger while someone else wanted chicken nuggets and a milk shake, how would that work?

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  4. January 18, 2015
    Students return for day two of the Design School X, a two-day prototype school at The Crucible in West Oakland. (Emi Kolawole)

    Students return for day two of the Design School X, a two-day prototype school at The Crucible in West Oakland. (Emi Kolawole)

    Note: If you want to follow the students and a live social feed of today’s events check out our tag board, #DSXOAK.

    We’re back at The Crucible here in West Oakland for day two of the pop-up school prototype Design School X. The two-day experience was designed by d.school fellow David Clifford.
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  5. January 17, 2015
    Signs point towards the weekend pop-up school Design School X, launched by d.school fellow David Clifford. (Emi Kolawole)

    Signs point towards the weekend pop-up school Design School X, launched by d.school fellow David Clifford. (Emi Kolawole)

    Note: If you want to follow the students and a live social feed of today’s events check out our tag board, #DSXOAK.

    If you could completely re-design the school experience, giving students the greatest possible creative agency, how would you do it?

    That’s what d.school edu fellow David Clifford is prototyping in West Oakland this weekend during his design sprint. David is a self-described “agitator” who “love[s] to mess with old ideas.”

    “The thing that we’re trying to do is redesign high school for the 21st century kid to help them navigate and affect change in the 21st century,” said David.

    “The current school model is still building kids to navigate the 19th and 20th century.” That model is meant to “manage humanity instead of inspire it.”

    David is joined by his team of fellows: Sam Yen, Jason Mayden and edu fellow Michael Tubbs. K12 Lab Network Director Susie Wise is also on hand.

    David Clifford (second from right) speaks with participants in the Design School X prototype. He is joined by d.school fellow Sam Yen (third from right). (Emi Kolawole)

    David Clifford (third from right) speaks with participants in the Design School X prototype. He is joined by d.school fellow Sam Yen (third from right). (Emi Kolawole)

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  6. January 16, 2015
    Students gathered at the d.school at the end of the 2014 fall quarter to participate in d.compress -- an event meant to help them synthesize the previous quarter and look forward with intent. (Olivia Vagelos)

    Students gathered at the d.school at the end of the 2014 fall quarter to participate in d.compress — an event meant to help them synthesize the previous quarter and look forward with intent. (Olivia Vagelos)

    A workshop was held at the d.school just before students left for the holidays. Aptly called “d.compress”, it offered students an opportunity to retreat from the stresses and pressures of the fall-quarter finals period.

    The event was organized by d.school Course Production Lead and Stanford alumna Tania Anaissie and Stanford alumna, designer and entrepreneur Olivia Vagelos. Invitations were sent out to the d.school community with a sign-up sheet. The event was geared primarily towards students and, as the weather turned rainy, came with the offer of hot chocolate and cookies.

    Curious, I signed up.

    We gathered in the media production studio (nicknamed “Studio 4″) on the second floor of the d.school. The room is small, cramped and generally locked. But Olivia and Tania transformed the space into a lounge. There was soft lighting, music and, yes, hot chocolate and cookies. Continue Reading

  7. January 15, 2015

    I hide my clutter. I push it under rugs and stuff it in drawers. This clearly has its disadvantages. So, recently, I have tried to cut into my clutter piles by getting rid of the things I don’t need. I have also been challenging myself to part with items I think are essential.

    When it comes to ideas, I operate in a very similar fashion. I tend to store my ideas in my head. I stuff them under rugs and in closets, expecting them to stay put and ready for me to retrieve them. But ideas are not like coats and tote bags. They have a habit of disappearing when you need them most.

    A few catch-up notes for my #dailynote practice I had kept stored in my head. (Emi Kolawole)

    A few catch-up notes for my #dailynote practice I had kept stored in my head. (Emi Kolawole)

    It wasn’t until I got to the d.school that I was able to let the mess of ideas flow out of my head and occupy tangible space.

    I was reminded of this while watching d.school fellow Jae Rhim Lee work with her design sprint team on Wednesday. I was struck by how liberally she spread her ideas around the room, letting them occupy the space almost as if they were branches of a rapidly-growing plant. One of her teammates asked whether they should erase some of the whiteboards to make more space.

    The answer: No. Instead, the team found new ways to continue spreading around the room. They brought in poster boards, smaller whiteboards and even leveraged table surfaces, windows and the floor.

    Watching this dynamic reminded me how important it is to give your ideas space. Then, when the space does not conform to your needs to think creatively and make more space. Use the windows, furniture, the floor or even hang fresh surfaces from the ceiling! This requires taking ownership of not only the physical space but your ideas as well.

  8. January 14, 2015
    (Photo by Flickr user "[Duncan]")

    (Photo by Flickr user “[Duncan]”)

     

    In order to truly look at health care, we must also look at how we die.

    This idea rests at the heart of d.school fellow and artist Jae Rhim Lee’s project at the d.school. Jae Rhim is part of the d.school fellows cohort focused on health care, but she is approaching it from a right-angle, if you will. Her project focus is on “death care” — or the ways we can better prepare and care for ourselves, our loved ones and even the environment before and after we die.

    Jae Rhim is the designer of the mushroom burial suit, a casing meant to enable environmentally-friendly decomposition. She presented the suit at TED in 2011.

    Now, at the d.school, she is exploring needs around death, including how we are introduced to the concept. This means, in part, focusing on conversations and exploring the nature of discussions, emotions and reactions to and around death. She is also in the midst of her design sprint, bringing along a subset of her fellows cohort to work with her to kick-start her project to the next stage.

    We’d like to invite you to take part in this exploration, and pose three questions to you:

    1) What do you remember about the first funeral you attended?

    2) Did your parents talk to you about death, and if so what did they say?

    3) When was the last time you talked to a child about death? What did you say?

    We’ll be following a hashtag #design4death, so please post your answers using that tag. If you’re not on Twitter, feel free to share your responses in the comments.

  9. January 6, 2015

    Two of the d.school fellows — David Clifford and Jae Rhim Lee — are launching their design sprints today at the d.school. This means that both fellows will start working with their design teams on key aspects of their projects. The design teams are made up of the remaining fellows split into teams of two — one for David, the other for Jae Rhim.

    Jae Rhim is an artist and researcher. Her project centers around death-care, particularly how to improve the ways individuals address, process and otherwise prepare for dying and death. We’ll have more on her project here in the coming days and weeks.

    In the meantime, David Clifford, a founding member of the East Bay High School for Boys, is prototyping a new school “to build in our students the agency to affect change, agility to seek out and navigate complex dilemmas and access to one’s purpose and character.”

    He has, as part of this process, created a Tumblr — a collection of ideas, quotes, videos and articles. It is a fluid showcase of his ideas, points of inspiration and sources of information around his emerging prototype.

    The tumblr being curated by d.school fellow David Clifford.

    The tumblr being curated by d.school fellow David Clifford.

    Part of our goal here on the whiteboard is to capture aspects of the creative process. David’s tumblr, which he also feeds to his Twitter account (@ebhighschool), is merely one part of his process, which also involves planning, scheduling to bring his prototype to life.

    If you have questions about David’s project, please post them in the comments. In the meantime, we look forward to bringing you more in the coming days and weeks.