The drawing phase
In our sprint session, we were introduced to the concept of ideation. Even though our topic (developing designs that will decrease vehicle congestion and greenhouse gas emission) was straightforward, carrying out the process of ideation was a complex task. The first part of the process involved drawing 10 sketches that showcased my divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is basically generating multiple ideas that may have the potential to address the problem at hand. This was the phase where I used all my creativity skills in order to come up with sketched ideas, no matter how ridiculous they looked. One of the design ideas that I had come up with was about a personalized helicopter that could fit the size of an average person’s head and transport him anywhere!
Out of these 10 sketches, we had to decide one which according to us was the most promising, that is, had the most potential of possibly solving the problem at hand. I chose the idea of a purifier which would convert emitted carbon dioxide into oxygen.
After this, we had to draw 10 sketches which were just slight variations of the selected idea. This is where the concept of convergent thinking came into play. Convergent thinking is an important aspect of ideation as it helps to narrow down the number of possible and viable solutions. Every single sketch was carefully labelled in order to help others understand the design more easily. During this part of the process, I gave special emphasis on the potential ways of collecting the carbon dioxide and use it in different ways. This led me to my most promising idea: adding a carbon dioxide convertor purifier on the emission pipes of all types of motor-vehicles. My aim behind choosing this particular idea was that it would help decrease emission of greenhouse gases drastically and if we made this piece of technology compulsory and expensive, the number of cars on the rode would also decrease.
The thinking phase
I found ideation to be the most fun topic related to human centered design engineering till now as I had the freedom to think without any restrictions which also helped in bringing out my creativity. This is what allows people to come up with extremely silly ideas (which they wouldn’t have even thought of suggesting in a serious meeting) that end up being revolutionary. Sketching the designs helped me as a designer to actually visualize the problem in hand and thus come up with ideas to address it. This sprint session has confirmed one thing for me: whenever we have a problem at hand, the best way to come up with a design is through sketches and the best way to address basic requirements such as potential users, scenarios etc is via sticky notes! Another effective thing about this process is that when you combine sketches and labelings together, it sought off creates a story which helps in bringing out the idea. Despite all this, I did have some struggle in coming up with sketches during the part whereI had to apply convergent thinking. According to me, this happened because it is tough to come up with variations for a design which you feel is pretty promising as you fail to see its other applications and even possibly some problems! This is perhaps the biggest struggle of a designer. I too couldn’t think of any other variations of the purifier as I wasn’t thinking of its other potential applications. Once I started giving focus to the carbon dioxide that was emitted rather than the purifier itself, things became more easy.
Ideation is an important skill to master if one wants to introduce a product that is going to be successful in the market. After all, in order to come up with a product, one needs to think of a problem at hand and the possible ways of tackling it. It is only through ideation (the application of convergent and divergent ways of thinking) that one will be able to come up with a near perfect solution. I believe that any physical product/policy that has been created is a result of ideation. It is a versatile process that can be used in nearly every single sector of life after all anything manmade starts of as a single idea. Even though it is potentially a time consuming method, I definitely see myself using this technique in all of my future projects: first thinking of a wide variety of solutions (some of them wild) and then focusing on one and coming up with slight variations. Mastering this skill will prove very helpful to me as it would not only help me come up with a solution to a problem, it will also help me think of other applications of a particular technique which in turn, might solve another existing problem.