GSIF Post #5

Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?

Addressing problems often have the same path, from large issues like climate change to personal life ones like figuring out where you lost the car keys again. They all require you to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and find the origin. I’ve always been interested in the idea of change over time, and the rise and fall of problems mark change in the world and in our lives.

A design process then for me would start by defining the problem, as clear and simple as it can get. Learn as much as you can about this problem, who is it affecting and what is the scope of the implications this problem brings. Most importantly, I think a big first step is identifying what are the consequences on acting on this problem versus the consequences of inaction. Will your design and research do more harm than good in adding to what is already existing? I’ve realized, through working on various projects for my temple’s organization for example, that adding more processes, projects and goals doesn’t always mean more progress is happening. It can easily start to add to the clutter, to the noise, until your original aim is lost. So keep it honest and simple as if your problem really needs addressing by you specifically.

Let’s say I want to solve this problem of losing my car keys all the time. If I don’t find a way to design a solution, I will constantly lose my car keys, costing me precious time in the morning. It makes my meetings late, my boss mad at me, and it slowly chips away at my sanity day by day.

After identifying this problem and collecting information, analyzing a path to the best approach for a solution will be tricky. I think a good design process takes into account the varying branches of approaching you can have to finding the best solution. Sometimes you will have to talk to local experts, go beyond your boundaries and comforts, and pick up on approaches and possible solutions you haven’t thought about before.

This could retrace you back to the collect information stage, which inevitably leads to analysis again. Taking time to filter out various models for solutions I believe is crucial, especially when taking an interdisciplinary and open approach.

I’ve researched a hundred articles, ranging from mindfulness to boosting memory retention to switching over to automatic car opener things with a touch of a button. While weighing the options– their costs, convenience, etc. — I also talk to friends of mine that experience the same tragedy of losing their car keys in the mornings. I’ve heard solutions, from having an ungodly strong magnet of a keychain to putting reminders around the house. One friend even claimed to reach the height of frustration and Marie Kondo’ed their entire house, only to find the keys in her back pocket. 

Once you land on a single approach, it’s time to test it in the field and get feedback. The most vital feedback I have found is not in data analysis, but rather getting on the ground and hearing the impact of a solution from the words of the people experiencing the change. A good design process has mechanisms in place for constant evolution, rather than a straight input-> output -> success theory. Improve at every stage and become more efficient, starting with this valuable feedback.  From there, you start right at the beginning for your next, new problem.

To clear up the dilemma of the lost car keys, I decide to go with the “Stay Organized” approach, by putting my car keys in a specific spot every time I come home– a side table next to the front door.  Feedback looks good – no one is complaining about me tearing the house apart now, looking for the keys. They might fall off the table sometimes, so maybe that’s my next challenge.

How will you validate your project concept, technology, usability, operational / business model?

Our findings will be disseminated to corporations and NGOs for use, promoted by Indian institutions and partnerships with Universities to help validate our research. In terms of creating a sustainable system though our project concept and operational model, we hope it can be replicated in the future for revising the practices we put out. The partnerships we initially create with businesses and organizations will grow, and with a longer period of engagement with them, the project solutions will also be developed and refined to fit the needs and expectations of both the law and organizations.

As third party, independent researches, we offer an unbiased consulting agency to these organizations. Therefore, with credible institutional backing, our findings should be appealing for business and organizations to look into, as they only seek to help make the processes they are conducting to become more efficient.

Articulate your philosophy of engagement with communities, partners, and markets.

Everything in this world is interconnected, the fate of all things and people dependent on each other. No matter how distant it may seem, I want to connect to communities and people vastly different from my own, to fulfill the need of learning the endless things I don’t know and never have experienced. This knowledge should be an investment, one where I can give something in return as well.

I choose to engage with communities, seek out partnerships and problems possibly out of this need of obligation to serve a purpose greater than the limits of my own environment and time. Like I mentioned before, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of change over time and how each human can play a role in that. I recently read this amazing article where activist Morgan Dixon stated:

“There’s no other way to prepare ourselves for what’s ahead — which is changing culture, changing structures, changing systems — unless we make a discipline of doing the things that scare us.”

Our engagement should scare us a little, because that means we are pushing for a real change.

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