Step 1: A General 'Scan' of the Environement
- You can begin anywhere in the photograph or the scene, or
- You can select a point and go clockwise or anti-clockwise, or
- You can begin by imagining how you would start walking as if you are in the picture from left to right or vice versa.
- "Who are the people there?"
- "Where are they going?"
- "What are they doing?"
- "Why are they doing ....?"
- "What (products) are they using to do...?"
- "What problems might they be facing?"
- "Why do they have this problem / inconvenience / frustration?"
- "What could have caused the problem / inconvenience / frustration?" , etc.
- "How does this or that work?", etc.
- "Why does he/she look quite frustrated?"
- "What happened actually?", etc.
- Begin with the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social ('P.I.E.S.') Needs analysis tool to make a list and categorize the different type of NEEDs on the activities that is going on in the scene.
- Start from identifying Physical Needs, follow on to Intellectual Needs, Emotional Needs and finally Social needs that either present or required based on your observations and interpretation of the photograph or on the scene.
- From identifying and recording the various types of NEEDs, Design Opportunities can be identified.
Step 3: Use 'Activity Mapping' to Study Processes and identify Objects for Improvements
To start using the 'Activity Mapping' tool, you should first select an identified NEED area from Step 3.
For example, your target group are the Elderlies and you target location is Home. There are so many areas around the home. You may choose to focus on the Kitchen.
There are so many things that can happen in the kitchen and you may have identified some 'physical needs' related to activities happening in the kitchen. You might choose to focus on one of activities which happens to be 'pouring a cup of water' from a kettle in the kitchen.
Due to aging and poorer eyesight with less agile hand-eye coordination, you find there was frequent spillage of water on the table. So this is a 'Physical Need' area that needs to pay attention to.
- The Activity Mapping is an excellent tool for working out processes and procedures, and also for identifying Products in use. Which in turn is excellent for identifying potential product improvements.
Step 4: Identify the Root Causes
- If you do follow faithfully from Step 1 to 3, I am sure you will by now gathered quite a bit of investigations and insights about what has gone on within the environment concerned.
- You will also be loaded with quite a bit of identified Design Opportunities after engaging 5W1H, the P.I.E.S analysis & the Activity Mapping tool to identify NEED areas and the products involved.
- In reality, some 'problems' you identified may not even be problems as it seems! They are in your potential design opportunity list because of your 'assumptions' and 'good guesses' that they are problems.
- Next, you should be concerned about finding the root causes of those 'problems' you have identified to making sure your design opportunity is really worth spending the next few months solving and subsequently working out a solution.
- To 'find the root cause', you'll have to engage the 'Five Whys' technique to test your assumptions and to get to the root cause(s) of those so-called 'problems' you have identified.
- The ultimate 'Five Whys' questioning technique is almost a full-proof litmus test to reveal the real problems from your initial assumptions and from those that were thought to be problems.
- By the end of this step you should have at least 3-5 confident potential Design Opportunities for selection.
- Even if you end up with 1 or 2 design opportunities it is fine. Because you will be very sure you have found genuine needs to solve.
- Existing product research is probably the second most important step after the Five Whys.
- Even if you have found the root cause of the problem and that may potentially be the ideal design opportunity, there is still a possibility that you might not be aware of existing solutions that have already been designed. You do not want to end up creating stuffs that has already existed. Do you?
- Research and study all existing products that are directly or indirectly related to the problem you have identified.
- Understand and compare their functionalities.
- Seek to understand how and why they are designed they way they are and what problems do they solve.
- If you discovered that solutions for the problem already existed, you can still transform that into a design challenge to design and create a better one.
- But before you do that, you got to study every possible existing solution in the market.
- Do Product Analysis on them to identify all the features and functionalities, the good and the bad points and their 'hidden' potentials.
- The P.M.I. technique can be used here.
- 'Hidden' potentials refer to possible 'functionalities' that the products could have done to cater to the problem better but is have not yet realized as a designed feature in the existing solutions you have studied. If you find 'hidden' potentials they are probably the most valuable Design Opportunities you can ever find.
Step 6: Selecting Design Opportunities using 'Benefits' as Criterion for Selection
- Finally we arrived here. You've got a few Design Opportunites now. How do you go about selecting the best one for your coursework?
- One way is to make a list of 'benefits' for each one of them.
- Assuming if a solution is found, what are the benefits and who benefits. etc.
- Then compare the benefits and select the one that benefits the most people.
- In other words, you want to compare the 'catchment area' of the benefits. Does this solution only benefit me? Him or Her? Or does it benefit a wider group of people? A family? A society or community? The neighbourhood? The nation? Or internationally?
- The Design Opportunity that has the widest 'catchment area' should be the winner.
- But also bear in mind time, ability and technological feasibility. That means even if you choose the most promising one, are you able to design and make it with your current ability, knowledge and time, and using what is available in the school to realize your product solution?