Generative Research III (Week 8)

Week Updates:

Catherine Shen
4 min readMar 14, 2016


  • IDEO workshop → 100 concepts exercise
  • Workshop 2 with a junior EMT from CMU
  • Workshop 3 with Pittsburgh EMTs
  • Presentation // smart ambulances

Reflections from IDEO Workshop

On Saturday, IDEO held a rapid prototyping workshop that really opened my eyes to the power of getting really weird, really fast. It also introduced the concept of QUANTITY as been a really powerful way to brainstorm and VALIDATING NEEDS through non-serious prototypes. I think this is all part of the “creative confidence” that IDEO speaks of and something that I really want to develop as I continue through design school.

100 Concepts

After the workshop, we were inspired to do our own 100 concepts exercise for our group project to “oil the wheels” of our generative brainstorming. For this part, we set a timer and each person silently generated 30+ concepts each.

100 concepts on autonomous ambulances

After brainstorming concepts, we started to group them together by patterns and and annotated the ones that resonated. This process was a really good way to exhaustively externalize the pre-existing ideas of design concepts that were already floating around in our heads thus far in this project. This resulted then in a narrowed list of a few key concepts.

grouping and narrowing concepts

Workshop 2

On Sunday, we were able to hold a workshop with Michael, an EMT in training who is also a student at CMU.

workshops with Michael

What was really great about this workshop was that it was the first time we were speaking with an EMT in person and so the second exercise of mapping out the journey became very important. It was also great to hear information that was corroborating information we had heard before from both Bill and from other stakeholders (emergency room nurses and transport doctors, etc.)

We decided that we didn’t want to do the second exercise anymore since the overall journey/process seemed fairly consistent. Moving forward, we want to focus on problems/issues/opportunity areas within the journey experience.

Workshop 3

On Monday, we finally were able to hold a workshop with three EMTs from Pittsburgh. Finally getting these really experience paramedics together made a big difference in how confident we felt about our current findings.

Because we cut out the second exercise, we were able to spend more time on the third exercise (inside the ambulance) and able to get deeper into scenarios and information.

It was surprising how easily the paramedics were able to get into the mindset of our exercises. They were very nonplussed about all the things we asked them to do.

Preparing the Presentation

Going into Tuesday, we had to put together a presentation to deliver to the Microsoft liaisons on Wednesday. Looking back, I don’t think we gave ourselves enough time to digest and synthesize the information from our recent generative workshops. This became a sticking point for us as we were getting the presentation together as there were differences of opinion in terms of what our insights actually were and what they thus suggested for design implications and directions.


Although I certainly got frustrated at one point, I learned that I need to take a step back sometimes and even if the end result is not perfect, I need to just let it progress and shape it a little more passively, smoothing the corners, and not getting as caught up in the details.

So I learned not to block things. In addition, I also learned to not push things either. There was this feeling that we should already have three distinct concepts going into the presentation. However, we decided as a team, on Shruti’s urging, to not commit to concepts. We decided we would indicate considerations and possible directions — aka our true state of mind — rather than trying to arbitrarily come up with more concrete directions.

So essentially, I’m learning to be more in tune with my own thoughts, feelings, and proclivities, and to be more of a good steward of the process rather than a manager.



Catherine Shen

designer. thinker. @CMUDesign masters. @NorthwesternU econ.