Written by Nora Schmidhofer who participated in the workshop with added notes from Behrad
In Behrad’s Design Thinking workshop “How to ideate solutions effectively?” We learn a systematic and effective approach to come up with potential ideas to a challenge and evolve them into a solution.
The challenge of the workshop on 24-09-2020 was on how the adoption of sustainable fashion might be accelerated among normal consumers.
This workshop is part of a series of workshops, which all are built upon each other i.e. we use the works of the participants of the former workshop as input.
Indeed Behrad clarifies at the beginning that he doesn’t add much input than it’s already provided and he intends to let the participants think and reflect on the materials and develop the concept as a team.
The workshop is designed for a 2-hour run and follows clear rules and an airtight agenda.
Behrad introduces the use of a timer during the exercises. The brain is a muscle and thinks of it as an engine. You need to warm it up. If you let it be idle indefinitely, it’d sleep eventually. If you let it work too much constantly, it’d wear off. The trick is to continuously shift gear from slow thinking (going in-depth – quality) and fast thinking (going wide – quantity).
Time bounded exercises are great ways to warm up the brain and get it to work.
One idea per stickie. A sticky resembles what twitter is to the world of expression i.e. one needs to condense her thoughts into a defined format. Same with writing on stickies.
Don’t use a pen because then no one can see what you write from a distance. Also, you can write more than necessary with a pen. Sharpies are great because it forces you to write big and bold.
Often in the workshops, a few would hijack the discussion given their rank, ego, or both. This rule is to promote deep individual work with moderated time for group discussion.
Discussion in a group leads often to Groupthink syndrome. People in a group desire to reach harmony and conformity. Cohesiveness, or the desire for cohesiveness, in a group may produce a tendency among its members to agree at all costs [read more about Groupthink]
To swim against this tendency, the group discussion is time-bounded with clear allocation time for each individual to express her thoughts.
After everyone expresses their ideas, then we encourage everyone to reflect and then decide by voting.
The workshop starts refreshingly with a grounding exercise. We all stand up to form a circle, close our eyes, and with a few deep breaths focusing on the good things of 2020. We send warm regards to our loved ones, and the ones we have frictions with. It helps a lot to get into a positive headspace and focus on being here.
For the first hands-on part of the workshop, we get familiar with the problem and write down our thoughts. To do that, we receive a sheet with the problem chart and target persona, that participants in the former workshop worked out and that elaborate on several problems regarding the challenge.
Based on the provided documents, we have 15 minutes to write down our thoughts and refresh our understanding of the topic.
At this step, we change roles and we imagine ourselves contributing to the problem by wearing our evil hat on. We come up with some evil suggestions: such as lying about clothes sustainability to customers; or inducing pressure to buy and the fear of missing out by making new popular clothes only available for a very short time.
(Interesting observation: nobody was on the level of Behrad, who told us to go to extremes, for example by killing all animals. We simply weren’t on the necessary level of letting our minds wander yet. But that is why we were here, taking this workshop;)
This task’s effect is – apart from being fun – mainly to jog our brain to approach the challenge unconventionally and from different angles. This is good preparation for the next step of generating solutions for our challenge.
Here as well, Behrad encourages us to ping-pong between feasible and wild ideas. This prods the brain and brings forth our creativity; and some entertaining solutions.
Each participant is to create around 15 ideas (again, to train the brain muscle on high output and creativity) and write them with sharpies on sticky notes.
Next, we pick our six best ideas – three realistic and three unrealistic ones – , place them on the whiteboard and discuss them in our group.
Here each participant presents their ideas to make sure everyone understands the point. After each participant receives four dot stickers to mark their favorite.
This way the team’s top four ideas (two feasible and two wild ones again) are to be chosen and everyone has a say in the final pick by placing their votes.
Interestingly, when ideas have a similar dot count the discussion shifted from its feasibility or wildness to its innovativeness, or more accurately to how much it will benefit the further brainstorming process.
The idea here we all get to hear each team’s best ideas. We don’t expect any result here only to get inspired.
The groups present some feasible – and quite easily implementable – ideas such as having a repair department in each shop or have clothes swapping event.
Another one is to have a company pick up the customer’s clothes, resell them, and pay the profits out to the customer.
Some wild plans are to have devastating environmental images on unsustainable clothing similar to the disease pictures on cigarette packs.
Or for the government to set a minimum price for each article of clothing.
Or, to simply travel into the future, see the disastrous effects and convince the current society to take steps such as buying only sustainable clothing to avert this horrible result. Easy:) (Hello Tenet!)
With the new input from every group, we arrive at the ideation technique SCAMPER. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse.
It is a technique to rethink and evolve ideas. We use SCAMPER individually on our group’s best four ideas. This is a great technique to carve out the ideas even more and make them more tangible.
For example, In the step Put to Another Use, a product is used differently at the end of its life cycle. A group suggests bringing damaged clothes to the repair department, that each shop should have. Hence the clothes can restart their life cycle instead of ending up as waste.
After evolving the top four ideas, interestingly we come up with more ideas. Then we prioritize our ideas individually then discuss the selected ones with the team.
Then we do the final voting and pick the best two ideas out of the pool.
A quick show and tell to show the present the top two ideas of each team to others.
BACKLOG: The list of all the top ideas
Thank you for reading the article. Let us know what you think about our process. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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