Week 7: Design Thinking Blog One

We’re back! We’ve moved on our machine learning course to using Design Thinking in order to create an application based upon neural networks.

First off, we were asked to relate Design Thinking to machine learning and neural networks. I find that easy.

The first step of Design Thinking is Empathy. You must talk to the end users and figure out why they’re trying to solve the problem that you are designing towards. What drives them to need a product? What issues can be solved by the designer?

The second step is Define. You take what you learn in the Empathy step and find the common threads. What problems did every potential customer have? What were the solutions they currently used? What was desired by those who would spend the most time with the product? This is the brainstorming step.

Ideation is third. This is where the solutions are explicitly created. Here, your definition becomes real concepts. It moves from “The users need a database that can do x, y, and z” to “Here is how I am designing a database that can do x, y, and z”.

Next you prototype. This is to gather quick feedback and start working out problems that may arise during implementation earlier rather than later.

Finally, you test it. Let the users try it. Let experts try it. Find the problems. Re-define the needs. Re-implement faulty features.

This is heavily applicable to neural networks and machine learning. For example, for my project, I am creating a neural network that can tell me to buy or sell a stock. What do I need? What problem am I solving? Design thinking allows me to approach my implementation as both a user and a designer, and gives me steps to follow to both keep my project on track and assure that I do not leave other ideas behind.

In addition to applying design thinking to neural networks and machine learning, we were asked to comment on sketch noting and design thinking as a practice.

I’m truly not a fan of sketch noting. I doodle as it is, but I learn by writing things down, not from pictures. It would take too much for me to keep up with a lecturer by “drawing” my notes. I learn with words, unfortunately. It’s an interesting concept for those who learn differently, but it will never be applicable to my learning style.

Design thinking is interesting as well, but I feel that I’ve encountered similar methodologies before and that they all revolve around the same idea of customer feedback -> design -> rapid prototype and test feedback. It will be interesting to implement my solution using Design Thinking, so I’ll have a better idea of what I think about it after some time spent with my project.