When Design thinking and Serious Play go together

Arindam Basu
Aug 10, 2015 · 2 min read

Professor MP Ranjan expressed this opiniion in the interview:

“… Because at an early stage, when you don’t know where to go, I think play is very good. Now, play seems like a very frivolous way of addressing a very serious problem.”

This is a very interesting position from a design thinking perspective. An approach that IDEO and Stanford University’s school of design adopt is a five stage sequentially expansion/contraction of ideas mapped by the following iterative stages (gathering empathy >> defiining the scope of the problem from the client perspective >> ideation of the solution >> building a prototype >> iteratively testing them) as follows:

The Stanford University Model of Design Thinking

The way this model of design thinking have been implemented in the various workshops that Stanford d.school provides (see their gift giving workshops presented online) is by using props and engaging the “players”, if you will in activities.

At the School of Health Sciences at the Univeresity of Canterbury, we have combined the notion of serious play with this design approach and we found good results in how users interact and create beautiful prototypes and working solutions. We have used Lego based serious play for these exercises.

Our experience is that, use of serious play (using Lego bricks) can lead to excellent prototype design using the Stanford type design thinking exercise.

A Lego Serious Play Design Thinking Exercise Product on display at a conference in New Delhi

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