5 – Solving wicked problems

Session 5 was the culmination of the first week of the course and the finalisation of a full circle of design thinking to come up with some interesting solutions to create more space, and transformational space in a home office. But more on that later.

The idea of a Designer attitude as coined by Michlewski (2008) really resonated with me, in that it is “considered important for managers in creating products, services and processes that are not only profitable but humanly satisfying”.  This helped with think on how creating satisfying experiences is becoming more and more important as so many things are commodified, put online and available from multiple places, competing on price is no longer as feasible as it once was where you could enjoy a monopoly in a town, or even country. I reflected in class that I used to like to buy my suits from John Hanna, even though this was not the cheapest place to get them, and in Canberra there are so many places to buy suits. But the experience at John Hanna was excellent. John and his team were good for a chat, could size you up by looking at you and usually grab something off the rack that would fit perfectly. While the price was higher, the experience was infinitely more “Humanly satisfying” then other options. Some scholars in the field have actually suggested that customer experience is the next competitive battleground. (Shaw & Ivens, 2005, per Spiller & Noci, 2007)

The other thing that was a stand out for me from this sessions was the idea of ‘service design’ as it turns out I have been doing this for most of my professional career without knowing it. Effectively you are looking at the life cycle of a service from pre-service, to during the service and post-service. The example from Stickdorn (2013) below really resonated with me as it reminded me of the stakeholder journey’s I had done about 10 years ago to highlight the various touch points available to Border Protection for identifying and intervening with risks to the Australian Border. 

The final thing that I took away from this session was “Engaging polysensorial aesthetics​”

That is the “skills to visualise and ‘think through drawing’ “(Schön 1983; Cross  1999) and that this has the “the potential to break the  creative deadlock and stimulate dialogue”

Once again it is something I never really actively considered, years as working as a business analyst developing and demonstrating Business Process maps and eliciting stakeholder feedback to optimise and automate these processes. Scrum boards covered in user stories, clearly visually the work that needs to be done, the visual focus of our daily stand-ups, which almost certainly “stimulated dialogue” and the countless wireframes, posted to walls where our clients and engineers could easily, painlessly and cheaply tweak ideas before they were committed to code.

The final assignment for this week was to come up with a prototype for a home office space, now while the process itself was the learning outcome, which our lecturer can see here, my final thoughts on the prototype were sketched out by a simple lo-fi sketch for a piece of office furniture that could double as a whiteboard, partition, set of drawers and extra desk space, all with the added benefit of being able to be rolled away under an existing desk. 

Not the most beautiful picture in the world but was sketched up in minutes, and the result of team discussion and a great design effort, and what’s more was able to form a visual cue to engage in further discussion and integration without the expense or time of a more detailed drawing or working model (which could come later). A link to our team’s Miroboard which captured the entire process for this assignment can be found here.

I’ll remember this session well and take its lessons with me to my next professional engagements.