A learn-by-doing community for creative professionals.


July, 2012

Measuring Well-Being

I just saw this bubble up on twitter! If you want to know more about how to dig into more intangible emotions and human physiological states, take a read through Measuring Well-being. It’s a free PDF download and has some helpful tricks and guideposts.

according to their site, the handbook provides:

  • Tools for thinking about well-being and its measurement. These will help to ensure that when you measure people’s well-being, you do so from an informed position. Part I of this handbook is Understanding Well-being.
  • Part II describes our recommended practical tools for measuring well-being: this will help you to get measuring!

The Power of Bad Ideas

If you hang around me for more than a few hours, you’ll discover that I’m into Steve Portigal. Google him, read lots of his stuff, go to his talks.

This article in Core77 is a great snippet of how ideation shouldn’t be hedged in by constraints TOO early. constraints can be a filter later on, but in a first pass at least, you should “go there” wherever “there” is – where the ideas take you. Decide later if they’re good or bad.

A teacher of mine in school liked to tell a story about Noguchi. He had a cabinet filled with tiny sketches of sculptures. When a client would come to him for a commission, he would often reach behind his desk, go into the cabinet, and show them the sketch. That is what they would get…but 20 feet tall. The ideas were there, waiting for the right time. So don’t stop the flow too early…you never know when that bad idea will find it’s right time.


Remember: I’m not bad I’m just drawn that way – Jessica Rabbit

What do Prototypes Prototype?

Read this article about prototypes. I found that it gave me a great framework to view my own prototyping through. What I love about the concepts laid out in this article is that even sketches, story flows and user journeys become prototypes. When what you’re designing is an experience, anything that helps you get resolution on that experience is a prototyping tool.

Using the diagrams and examples in this article, your team should be able to get resolution on what types of prototypes you want to make…and when you communicate the type of prototype when getting feedback, it can help you get more accurate responses – responses appropriate to your prototypes intent.

Avoid BS Personas

That’s pretty good advice in general. But with Personas, BS can really dry up a team’s inspiration. Take the time to go through the slides from this great presentation here. And listen to the audio here at the same time.

Personas can easily become plastic, pretend people. By digging a little deeper and using some of the tools from your Understand toolkit, personas can be grouped together and used for more strategic approaches to problem solving.


The Ebb and Flow of Ideation (by Dev Patnaik)

This is a post from Dev Patnaik, founder of Jump Associates, originally from the Product Development Best Practices Report. He introduces the Idea Curve and explains that it’s completely normal to go through bursts of ideas and then slow down significantly during ideation sessions. But by continuing to push through and using creative prompts, not only will you hit more periods of high-generation, but you’ll actually get to better quality ideas. This is really useful context to explain to your team to avoid discouragement and continue pushing for better ideas.





Design Thinking Is A Failed Experiment – So What’s Next? (by Bruce Nussbaum)

As design thinking exploded in popularity and universities began quickly adopting design programs into their business schools, it was inevitable that some critics and skeptics would evolve. This article, from well-known writer Bruce Nussbaum, is a perfect example. It’s important to take these criticisms into consideration as you are developing your understanding of design thinking. More importantly though, is to understand that most of this comes from people misusing and misunderstanding the process. Design thinking is not an end all be all solution, but rather a tool. We tend to argue that it isn’t dead, and probably wont be anytime soon.

The Simple Shapes of Stories (video, by Kurt Vonnegut)

Kurt Vonnegut is a staple of 20th century American literature, and as such knows a few things about good storytelling. In this humorous video he breaks storytelling down into the absolute basics and visually shows how the arc looks. Keep these principles in mind and explore visually mapping your story during the distillation phase.

Structured Ideation & Design Thinking (by Gayle Curtis)

This is a great 28 page deck we found on SlideShare from Gayle Curtisthat summarizes a few other sources and sets up some ideation fundamentals. He sets up some basic rules that are essential to good ideation sessions, such as deferring judgement and going for quantity. You can adapt these principles for your own ideation sessions. He also provides some examples of different questions and scenarios to help you develop tons of prompts. Adapt these prompt starters to your specific topic to push your team towards more generation.

Groupthink and the Myth of Brainstorming (by Jonah Lehrer)

This article from the January 2012 New Yorker magazine created a big splash of both positive and negative reaction when it came out. In it, Jonah Lehrer explains the birth of brainstorming back in 1948 and presents a variety of arguments to support, or mostly refute, the concept since. This is a great thought starter, but take it for face value and form your own opinions about it. Ultimately, it highlights the need for setting up the right team of people and the right team dynamics, critical steps in setting up any good ideation session.







Black + Blum Design A Better Water Bottle, Complete WIth A Giant Charcoal Stick (Dan Macsai, FastCompany)

We love this quick article in Fast Company because it demonstrates the highly iterative process necessary for creating something beautiful and meaningful. In pursuit of a water bottle that will eliminate the waste of disposable water bottles, they share the exploration process they went through and where they gathered some of their inspiration from. You get a good look at some of their early prototypes and the beautiful final product they arrived at.