I’m an analyzer. An over-thinker. It’s easy for me to spend hours thinking over the tiny details of a problem or situation. Something as simple as ordering coffee becomes an ordeal for me. Do I really need this coffee? What flavor should I get? Hot or cold? The possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, overanalyzing and over-thinking is a common problem for designers. While it’s not bad to think deeply and carefully, we must learn to restructure the nature of our thoughts and our questions. When I come across a problem, my brain immediately goes into overdrive looking for a solution. I become so focused on finding the perfect solution that I often don’t even recognize the true, underlying problem.
Don Norman reveals that “the secret to success is to understand what the real problem is” in Chapter 6 of The Design of Everyday Thinking, entitled “Design Thinking” (217). He then details the two key tools of design: Human Centered Design and the double diamond diverge-converge model.
Double Diamond Diverge-Converge Model
Since I’ve already discussed HCD, I”ll focus more on the double diamond diverge-converge model. When designing something, a designer must first diverge by seeking out all the possible issues, then converging upon the determined underlying problem after research and testing. Once the designer identifies the problem, he or she must diverge again to seek out all possible solutions. Not shockingly, the designer ends by converging upon a single solution after all other solutions have been compared. Using this approach ensures that designers are solving real problems for real people.
Activity Centered Design
Even if a designer employs the method of human centered designing and the double diamond diverge-converge model, how can one product solve a problem for all problem? Unfortunately, it can’t. It’s very rare that one product will be completely satisfactory towards all people across the globe. However, focusing on the activity being completed rather than the individual completing the activity will increase the likelihood of satisfaction.
Above all else, remember that design requires iteration and flexibility! You must be willing to try and try again, sometimes making slight adjustments and sometimes starting with a clean slate. As Tim Brown said, in design, “Fail frequently, fail fast!” (229).
Don Norman and Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO discuss design thinking
- Do you tend to overanalyze or act on impulse?
- What areas or institutions need to “start with a clean slate”?
Until next blog, Evan