IDEATION: breaking things apart
The exercise is simple. Take a mundane project, painting a wall, and break it into the components actually required to go from idea to actualization. What does a simple task like painting a wall require? AND how can it be communicated through simple sketching and storyboarding. This is the process of ideation through task analysis.
Setting the stage requires a story: an apartment tenant lays on the floor sad. That, “I don’t know why I’m sad, but this wallpaper sure doesn’t help kind of sad.” So what does the sad tenant do? Have a brilliant idea of course!
Imagining the scenario helps to determine what tasks may actually be involved in a project like this. So you’ve just come up with a brilliant idea for brightening your day, but what are the many questions to be answered before you even start?
First, what if my roommates love the “rustic” charm of the old wallpaper? So I must get a consensus that we should even consider painting the wall. So we all agree, the wall should be painted, but then we don’t own the property, so we have to involve the property manager. Is he/she ok with our plan? The landlord is curious, who is going to pay for this project… they thought it was just fine as it was. Discussing it amongst the roommates we agree to pay for it and propose transferring him money via PayPal. He agrees with a handshake. So who is going to actually pick the color and paint the wall? We were set on that pretty purple, but the landlord, after sampling a few colors, decides he’d rather paint the wall red. So he goes and purchases the materials with the money we transferred him. Tears off the old wallpaper, sets up his work space and gets to work painting. We would have loved that purple, but are just happy to a new color.
The above scene answers lots of questions that I posed the fictional characters before imagining the scene. It allowed me to build a narrative which otherwise could have had a number of different outcomes and wouldn’t have been easy to storyboard. With everyone’s decisions decided by, well… me, I chose how many tiles I would try and tell my story in: eight. With only eight tiles and many many more tasks/decisions to be communicated, I chose to sketch out scenes which imply a lot of action without directly stating through text or too many signs, what tasks the characters are weighing and considering.
I enjoyed the challenge! Even a simple ideation is far from mundane and gives insight, clarity, and respect to the complexity of analyzing any task or question.