Narrow down on your problem definition and go crazy with ideation

Definition and ideation phases of design thinking or human centred design

Narrow down on your problem definition and go crazy with ideation

(I would recommend giving this a quick read first 8 aspects to be aware of whilst doing Design Thinking)

Empathise - Define - Ideate - Prototype - Test

Define

Lets look at an example:

Challenge: To improve the living conditions in refugee camps

After the empathise phase, you identify that you want to focus on reducing health issues primarily through water sanitation and that babies are vulnerable to illnesses due to unhygienic living conditions.

Now lets try to frame the problem definition:

  • I would like to improve the living conditions in refugee camps through water sanitation and avoid health issues for families, especially the ones with babies
  • I would like to improve the living conditions in refugee camps through water sanitation for families with babies
  • I would like to improve living conditions through water sanitation in refugee camps for babies
  • I would like to improve the access to clean water to babies in refugee camps.
  • I would like to improve the access to clean water to babies in ONE particular refugee camp. (This final definition would be your guiding Northstar )

For now, though it might seem unreasonable, do not worry about helping everyone. To create a solution, zoom into a small group of users and scale up later.


Ideate

Now that we have our definition, let's jump into ideation. You could use one of these tools. Take up the initiative to remind everyone, before and also during ideation, to refrain from analysing ideas and critiquing them. This is the time to go crazy and jot down all the wacky ideas.

Shortlists around 3 ideas, and double check if these ideas align with the problem definition. If they do, go to the users and ask them about their thoughts on the concepts BEFORE finalising one idea to prototype. Avoid getting anchored to one idea (this goes beyond design thinking). Because of anchoring, you tend to zone out, stop validating other ideas and keep defending one. It could also trigger conflicts within the group.

After the validation, try another round of Ideation. Why is the 2nd round of ideation good:

  1. You have validated the first round of ideas. So this gives you a general understanding of what works for the user and what doesn’t.
  2. The second round goes faster and you end up having a different set of relevant ideas (which you should validate again).

Now you have 6 ideas, narrow down on ONE and start prototyping.