Secrets & Assumptions

September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Secret BoxAs I was leaving school today I noticed simple looking box sitting innocently in the lobby. Too plain to be an advert of any sort but too smart to have been forgotten, I stopped and turned around for further inspection. There was a pad of paper attached to the top, a pen tethered to the back and a simple note asking passerby to share a secret. For their generosity they would be rewarded with a secret from the box’s creator, which was on the flip side of the note. I deposited two secrets, read theirs and was on my way. Kind of a nice end to the day, leaving a few secrets behind as I left for the day.

The incident got me thinking on my drive home about a box created last year by design team 5.0 in the Collaborative Action Studio. I believe they were having communication issues that were hampering their work. In effort to address this they created a similar box. If an issue was thought to be serious enough the member was obligated to discuss it. If the problem was likely an assumption  or minor it could be placed in the box, never to be read; a good symbol for acknowledging fears and then moving on, not letting them hold you back. It seemed to have worked for them as their productivity improved after implementing their version of the secret box.

Maybe we all need a box to deposit our fears and secrets into so that we can move forward, and past our assumptions that threaten to hold us back. Feel free to share your secrets in the comments section, anonymously of course.

(Collaborative Action) Reflection

September 8, 2010 § 1 Comment

As part of our second-year education in the MFA program here we serve as facilitators for the first-year students in their Collaborative Action Studio. These students are just now leaving the board in their head first dive into design thinking, design research, human-centered design and many other wonderful topics.

It’s given me and others in my class a chance to reflect on the first few weeks of our time here. I remember ending the first week with a bout of confusion but excitement as to where this was heading. I think my brain hurt from all that I had taken in and I was fatigued by all the work that I knew was ahead. Fun times, really.

In recent studio collaborative sessions the students have made their first trip through the Simplex process in order to solve a small, personal problem. To place myself in their shoes I dug up a written reflection from my first and second attempts at the process. Below are some notes from that reflection:

  • divergence became easier on the second attempt
  • challenge mapping and creating challenge statements became easier and more focused on the second try

What to take out of this? A) We will get better with creative problem solving processes as we get more experience with them. B) Have patience with those who are new to the process. It seems to be a simple, straightforward process, but it does consist of skills that must be learned and constantly refined. Even those leading facilitating the process can continue to improve their skills.

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