People  Design  Business

DESIGN THINKING MANUAL

prompt

Create a manual that can help beginners understand your view of design thinking 

my take

A collaborative board and card game, where players solve challenges using design methods, before they run out of "hope scriptures". With hidden twists, and multiple elements, this game blends play and learning

team

Individual project

organisation 

MA Design, CMU

my underlying aim

Design thinking is a diverse set of ingredients, borrowing elements from diverse fields, helping move towards different possible futures in diverse spaces and solve problems of varied natures and levels. This diversity brings a lot of variations on thoughts about what design thinking actually is

 

The inability to define design in a determinate way can create confusion and discomfort with the subject.

The game aims to helps the user embrace this key characteristic of ambiguity, rather than fight to reduce it to one single definition.

Design Thinking board and card game
audience and product rationale

My manual is intended for students (18+) just starting design school

Gaming is being recognised as an effective way for helping people learn about certain subjects, expand concepts and reinforce development in a fun, engaging way. I decided to use this medium to introduce my audience to both theoretical and practical sides of an approach they would soon be learning about

highlights of the game

4 challenges: social, business, experience and product 

Placed on the main board 

design methods and principles to help with the challenges

Placed on the main board 

4 of 6 debono hats as superpowers

 

Given as cards

complexity cards that add hurdles to the existing challenges

Hidden in the main deck

features
 
Given the choice of medium, a key consideration was creating something fun and engaging while imparting knowledge about the subject 
  • Collaborative - Being true to the spirit of design thinking, this game brings multiple perspectives together to face the challenges.
  • Twists - While collaborative, the game divides players into 2 teams at the end - this not only keeps scoring fair, but also adds the rush of winning/losing
  • Hazards / hurdles - Hazards increase anticipation and challenge, thereby increasing engagement (like snakes in snakes and ladders)
  • Multiple elements - To increase engagement, I added lives and roles for each player. Losing lives creates anticipation and urgency, roles help create drama 
game story
  • To start with, there are 4 challenges facing the world. Each player has a superpower (4 of Debono's 6 thinking roles), and 3 lives
  • Players have to collaboratively solve these challenges by doing certain tasks (design methods described on flyers called hope scriptures) that can create positive outcomes. The aim is to solve these challenges before running out of hope scriptures or lives 
  • Challenge and twists has been added in the game through hurdles and new challenge cards that are hidden among the original challenge cards  
game play in brief
  • On their turn, player picks out a card from the challenge deck, and then chooses a task (a design method/principle) to perform to forward that challenge. The 'hope scriptures' - which give the explanation of the methods - are limited
  • Each player offers advice basis their role, which may/may not be followed by the person whose turn it is
  • The rest of the players then score the player. The hope scripture is discarded.
  • Players have to maintain certain scores, else they loose a life.
  • All the tasks have to be performed before the 'hope scriptures' run out
  • TWIST - Players are divided into teams at the last moment. Team will highest collective score wins
process
synthesis

One of the key requirements was developing our individual point of view on design thinking. It required a synthesis of what I knew and what I had learnt

I started by putting down high level individual things I had heard, read and learnt about design thinking from –

  • Readings articles, blogs and books by multiple authors in design over the course of the semester,

  • My work life, and

  • During MBA

SEE AND UNDERSTAND

SEE THE WORLD – Design thinking allows you to see the world clearly and completely  (think of it as a cleaning agent or a view finder)

SEE THE NEW OPPORTUNITIES - This clear, complete vision allows you to think of new ways (hidden before) to approach the situation and see new kind of opportunities

DO

BREAKING MENTAL MODELS - Encourages exploration of new ideas and multiple ways to follow identified opportunities 

 

EVOLVE - Bringing your idea into existence and repeatedly improving it

ideating on multiple game ideas
  1. A trump card game, where players try to win the round by highlighting the winning aspect of theories of different thinkers. This would help in bringing out the best of each thinker in the field

  2. A mobile based design thinking game, to help learn on the go

  3. A board game with different design methods on a path, where players move and practice the method on a design problem

  4. A board and card game with players having different roles to play

low fidelity prototyping

For a board game idea that seemed promising, I created a low fidelity prototype to get feedback

  • Each player would have a home ground - one of the 4 parts of design thinking. Each part would have some activities written

  • There would be 4 problems in level 1. Each person would be given 1 problem to solve

  • All players would begin at see the world. Player 1 rolls the dice, and moves their pawn. The player would then perform the activity in collaboration with the person whose home ground it is.

  • Other players would give scores.

  • Aim would be to score high and reach “home”. This meant, that even a player reached home first, but scored less than the others, they wouldn’t win. Players would have the choice of continuing even after reaching home to score more.

feedback and iteration

Feedback sessions with peers revealed rich insights that helped the game evolve

  • The competitive nature of the game might influence scoring

  • The collaborative spirit of design thinking was not getting truly reflected

  • Suggestion to introduce hazards and / or twists in the game to increase engagement

COMPETITIVE OR COLLABORATIVE? – A big question

Feedback from peers, who understood design thinking, indicated the game should be more collaborative, AND speaking to several people who liked playing games revealed that competition makes it more “interesting”. 

CONCILIATING THE TWO NEEDS

Reason to be – Using one of the methods of design thinking, I tried understanding what about competitive nature of games makes it more appealing. What people, including me, liked about competitive games was the adrenaline rush of defeating and emerging victorious. I had to figure out a way to bring this rush in a collaborative game

Iterated version -  Working on the feedback received acted as a springboard for new ideas. I also looked at Pandemic for inspiration from games that were collaborative in nature