The Flower Exercise

February 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

“A way to clarify what one wants to do.” – Dick Bolles

The Flower Exercise prescribed in Bolles’ “What Color is Your Parachute?” is designed to help those seeking career guidance with an inventorying system of their skills, traits, personality and other elements. A number of us in the studio have been working through the exercise and have found it valuable. The process helped me identify an area in which I have (some) expertise and a big interest in – sustainability. I’ve educated myself on sustainability issues, having attended conferences and seminars in addition to implementing several projects in my home. My interest lies in helping individuals, organizations and even communities benefit from designing and implementing sustainable practices, affecting large systems down to the components of a personal product or individual process. Working through the “flower” exercise allowed me to recognize this alignment of my personal values and interests and my skills that I might not have seen otherwise.

Click here to download my flower.

After working through the exercise and feeling enthused by the results, and hearing positive comments from others that had done it, I decided it would be a good move as a mentor to talk with Sam about the exercise. It was not assigned to her as part of a class but I knew that she had started the exercise to prepare herself for securing a summer internship. When we sat down to talk about it she had not yet finished but was interested in my results. I shared my insight from above and suggested it was a positive process that could help in fine-tuning a resume. Our talk then turned resumes’ and their contents as well as what type of job she was seeking. I had this same concern last year regarding how to craft my resume’ in light of my new educational experience and was able to share my most recent resume’ with Sam and direct her to a section of the “parachute” book that offered useful advice. I also shared my  previous summer’s experience of attending a design education fellowship, making local innovation connections, and reflecting on the first 2 semesters of the MFA program. Samantha hopes to secure an internship in design research or innovation outside of Indianapolis and I think that would be a great experience in a number of ways for her. She best get to work on her flower exercise.


Thesis Proposal Posterized

December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

image from posterTo cap off our thesis proposals we hosted a poster day so that we could share our work to date, get feedback and talk about our plans for the project. As always seems to be the case, making visuals and additional content helps with the main task at hand — in this case writing a thesis proposal. To create an engaging poster that tells the story I had to know my project and develop a story to tell. I decided that my objective was to create a poster that anyone who attended could understand and engage with me in my project after viewing it for 2-3 minutes. The story that I wanted to tell was that pairing visualizations with written text will improve cognition by a larger audience; that citizens often don’t but do need to participate in complex issues within their local government; and that my hypothesis and future research would attempt to see if the addition of visualizations to government communication on complex issues could increase citizen participation on those issues.

Yesterday came poster day and we were delighted to host a crowd that I would estimate at about 40 attendees, consisting of friends and family, Herron students and faculty and other interested parties. I was able to talk with about 10 of them at length about my project and received some great feedback. Some had insightful comments regarding my future research and how visualizations help them learn in their lives. A number also commented that they liked my poster and that they thought it was the easiest to engage (communications objective achieved). Many people were excited about the potential of getting more people involved in government, which is my main goal.

I believe all of us graduate students left the day feeling relieved that we were done for the semester, but most importantly excited about moving into the next phase of their thesis project after talking to and connecting with others on our work. I’m also proud of the way that the class came together to stage such an event. The food, the promotion, the exhibition space and the posters were all impressive and as our teacher said, set a high bar for classes to come. I’ll post a few pics of the day when I get a chance.

Synthesize, Research, Repeat

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I see.

Since we last spoke I’ve been continuing my research using the methods I described earlier. Occasionally I’ll pull out my note cards and sort them, looking for key facts and connections in effort to make sense of sensemake the mass amount of information I’ve been going through. I was able to build a nice visual that helped me better comprehend the connections and engage others in conversations about my topics – local government, citizens, communication, visualizations, and participation.

The image above represents one corner of my synthesized visualization. Click here to view the full visual.

Leadership Visual

September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Visual closeup

In my Design Leadership seminar we recently read two articles and visualized our integrated understanding of them. The first article discussed the leadership style of seven different types of leaders. Three of these under perfom, two styles are average to good performers, and the final two types are the cream of the crop, transformational leaders. The second article, written by Design Thinking advocate Roger Martin, focused on the ability to think integratively. Rather than simplifying problems into either-or scenarios using conventional thinking, the integrative thinker is able to create a new third-way to approach the problem.

Click here for my visual. (Warning: LARGE file)

Topics of Interest

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment


Click here for the full Areas of Interest Visual

A key method for success in tackling complex, ambiguous problems (such as identifying thesis research questions) is to create a visual model (or visualization) of the problem space. The one above is a map that covers my topics of interest to this point in my thesis project research and begins to build connections between the topics. Also identified are design lenses, which I will eventually need to establish.

It is always interesting creating these things. You never know what patterns or relationships will pop up that you didn’t recognize before and only were able to see once you started separating and organizing the muck.

Laboring over Visualizations

September 7, 2010 § 2 Comments

Local Govt Innovation visualI spent Labor Day weekend contemplating and creating visuals that displayed relationships and patterns within my content areas. Throughout the research process I have been writing and identifying key facts and concepts on index cards and Post-It notes. For class a week ago I had also created hand-drawn visualizations of my research.

Local Govt Innovation Design Vocation visual

This weekend as I sat down with all of my information I quickly became overwhelmed with all of the clutter content. I had a brief panic attack when I began considering how to visually show all the connections, details and information that I had gathered. Taking a deep breath I reflected back on my sense making training and decided to begin making patterns and looking for “buckets” of main ideas to place the gathered ideas into. Relationships and hierarchies quickly began to emerge. However, I was not satisfied with the first attempt and blew it up and began anew. « Read the rest of this entry »

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