Experience It All, Whittle, Widen

The first, and to me, the most important piece of the design thinking process is the discovery portion with an emphasis on empathy. I understand this to mean experiencing the scope of the problem or situation with open eyes and alert ears. Experiencing it all allows the designer to deep dive into the perspective of the user(s).

After experiencing and discovering the problem or situation at hand, the next step and challenge is to whittle it down to a specific focus. Often referred to as the “define” phase, this part of the process taps into what, specifically, the user is saying and/or showing that he/she needs and wants.

The third essential feature of the design thinking process is to think wide and big about how to solve the problem. Viewing the problem with a wide lens seems to encompass the ideate, prototype and test portions of the process. To ideate, brainstorming and coming up with lots of possible solutions is key. Based on a solution or part of a solution, using open-minded critical thinking to develop a prototype is next. Learning from failures, while continuing to think wide and big, is the crux of the test phase.

To Pantry the Process I selected a range of mostly sweet items from our pantry. I created a head with pronounced eyes (for observing) and ears (for listening) to experience it all in the empathy/discovery phase of the process. The “eyes” are sandwich cookies with mini-marshallow pupils and the “ears” are fortune cookies. The “hair” is sunflower seeds, the “nose” is a Hershey’s kiss, and the “mouth” is raisins. To whittle down to a defined problem I used two candy sticks to show a narrowing of the focus. Then, for the widening portion of the process I used two Pez dispensers to signify the breadth of possibilities in the ideating, prototyping and testing phases. My photo composition is below. I also included a photo of the two rather apropos fortunes from the fortune cookies!