Ideation for Innovation

Published on January 31, 2024   19 min
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Hello. Welcome to Ideation for Innovation. My name is Meta Newhouse, and I'm the Chair and Design at Lesley University. I'm the former founding director of Diesel, the design sandbox of Engaged Learning at Montana State. At Diesel, I worked to create a curriculum that was entirely focused on teaching and learning the design thinking process, and several successful business ideas were launched in that program. You'll learn about one of those farmented in this session. I've also worked in the design industry for more than 30 years and as a design educator for more than 20. When I'm working on a project for clients, such as the City of Cambridge, the American Heart Association, or Motorola, I'm determined to deliver truly novel ideas for their emotional needs. Today I'm going to share with you three tips that will help you become a more creative problem solver and these tips will also help you be a stronger collaborator when you work in groups.
In case you aren't familiar with a design thinking process, I'm going to start with a brief overview. The design thinking process begins with gaining an empathic understanding of your user or audience. Essentially, if you begin with an understanding of real human needs, you will be able to create something that suits those needs. If you wanted to create, for example, an easy de-weeding tool for hobby gardeners, you would interview and observe hobby gardeners before creating your product design. The next step, problem definition is when you take insights gained from your user research and you develop a positioning statement that will be your guide through the rest of the process. Problem definition typically sounds like this: user needs a way to fill in the blank because fill in the blank or if we stick with the gardening tool project example, Hobby gardeners need a way to quickly and easily remove weeds from the garden because the work is laborious. Then, of course, we also want to stop using herbicides. The ideation phase is all about brainstorming up ideas for your project. This session will focus on this phase with tips on how to elevate your ideation abilities. Here we would be thinking up ideas for what the gardening tool might be named, how it is shaped, what materials it's made out of, etc. Prototyping is simply creating mock-ups of your ideas for critique or discussion and user testing. Most design thinking processes plan for multiple visits to this phase. Starting with low-fidelity prototypes, such as sketches or cardboard models and ultimately progressing to a high-fidelity prototype, which might be a 3D printed product that users could hold in their hands. User testing is a critical phase that will help you have a stronger understanding of whether or not your idea meets that human need you are designing for. Here we would be asking Hobby gardeners to hold and use our prototypes and report back on what works and what doesn't, but what happens when the user testing process yields feedback that your idea or project is not solving the problem you defined. The brilliance of this process is that it is flexible and non-linear. If you learned from the user testing that your gardening tool product slips out of elderly hands too easily, you would go back to the prototyping phase to develop a different kind of grip design. If you learned that users wanted a multifunctional tool that did more than just the de-weeding, you'd have to go back to the problem definition phase and readjust your mission. Then, go forward through the process again with your new product idea, but as promised, we are going to focus on the ideation part of this phase in this talk.