From the Fellows: “What I learned from IDEO…”
By Frank Teng, Class of 2013
Liz pulled me aside with a concerned look.
"Frank. You can’t just skip an interview because of VFA training. If you’re not going to take this seriously-"
"No, no", I interjected. "I’d skip VFA training any other week. But this is IDEO. I’ve loved them ever since I heard of them in my junior year. There’s no way I’m missing this."
I noticed when I said that, my voice was some strange mixture of stubborn determination and squealing-fan-girl enthusiasm.
What fascinates me most about IDEO, and design thinking in general, is the focus on a human-centered approach to creating systems. Who knew that slapping a sticker of a fly on urinals could increase aim by 80%? These “Human Centered Designs” fueled my curiosity as a Psychology major—if one well-placed sticker can dramatically modify male behavior at a urinal, what else can we do?
As our team geared up for the product challenge, IDEO helped us brainstorm ways to find problems around Providence.
The emphasis on Human Centered Design allows us to focus on issues that we usually overlook. For example, roleplaying as a hospital patient allows us to feel empathy for them. We can learn this emotion by noticing that patients spend most of their time staring at a dull ceiling. How might we improve the quality of life for patients?
This is why I love IDEO: they understand that emotions drive human behavior as much as reason. Emotion, however, cannot be recorded easily as data. Furthermore, emotions quickly become habituated and are difficult to describe.
These techniques are useful frameworks for experientially reliving how others might feel when going through a situation. By developing empathy, our designs put human sensory back into the experience.
So, what did I learn?
Structure the right group environment- Going through IDEO’s post-it brainstorm process was a lot more beneficial then throwing ideas around at a table. I am now convinced that creative intelligence matters less than having the right brainstorming process when coming up with great ideas.
Don’t hesitate- This is where our team was the weakest. We were all too focused on finding THE perfect market that we lost valuable time. Just go and do it!
Rapid prototype it!- GET YOUR PRODUCT OUT TO MARKET, FAST. Sitting in a chair and ideating is great, but until you validate your product out there, your ideas are worthless.
Although we didn’t win the Product Challenge, our team definitely came away with a better understanding of what success as a team meant.