Our world is full of problems big and small. It is not hard to look around and notice things that are just not excellent. Every day you will find something that annoys you or does not seem as great as it should be. Once in a while friends will share their issues too. Look at the news if you have not found any problems – more than ever migrants are fleeing in larger numbers, the climate crisis is more visible, and communities are divided on false boundaries. All of these challenges are felt and seen differently depending on who you talk to. The main thing is there is no one big challenge to solve.
Luckily people are pretty great at coming up with solutions. Unfortunately, not everyone is great at exploring options. This is a bit like finding a tree is blocking your path, so you drag the heavy tree out of the way, get exhausted and keep going on your travels. You forget to check in with your goals and see who else can help. Maybe you just wanted to go for a walk to any place so you could always go another way and avoid all that effort. Or maybe someone is standing by and could help out in the right direction. Exploring any challenge you face requires stepping back before jumping in.
When you are looking at challenges out in the world, it is worth thinking about which tool to use first. Read on for three ways to explore challenges with design models.
Design Council’s double diamond model is straightforward and easy to pick up a structure. It has a beginning and an end like all books, but don’t forget you can pick up a good book and read it again just like you should always go back again and again with this model. The shapes make it easy to communicate the idea of diverging and converging. That means the process of going wide to find many options before paring options back. The fact this runs in a straight line makes it easy to feel and see progress. This is a popular approach when you or someone you are working with is new to design. Use it when you have a pretty clear and well-defined challenge and want an open outcome to explore.
IDEO offers a famous model of 5 hexagons for Design Thinking. It does not suggest direction but rather ingredients that are ideally taken in a certain order the first time. A bit like an inoculation for the uncreative with encouragement to get regular boosters based on feedback. This has been evolved into a model for Social Enterprises that gives a bit more direction. Even if not a social enterprise, this a good model to motivate people who might be a bit dubious about all this design ‘stuff’ – IDEO is the biggest name in Design Thinking and recognised globally. This model is great if you are uncertain what needs to be done but you want a very specific outcome to develop.
DSIL Global has another structure born in community engagement that introduces a strong focus on people over process. This is a great aspect to reflect on when exploring a solution. It looks a bit like waves at the beach. Just like a day at the beach, this process has to be done with others again and again. The main element is the line going left to right through the design phases reflecting the personal journey someone takes when going through a design process. As you design, you will have differing amounts of creative energy. This builds and crashes regularly but the crash is never as low as the one before. Try this model with teams that are a bit obsessed with the process to crack the addiction. This model is great for big problems that need deep exploring and an open opportunity at the end to develop.
These are three tools you can use for whatever challenge you are thinking of now. This has been a chance to pull back and see the options. Pick one or pick some before you head out to explore different ideas. Unleash your curiosity.
About the author
Sam Shlansky is the CEO of Marco Polo Project, a company that is in a mission to create intercultural spaces where globally connected people learn and explore collectively. Sam also has a bachelor degree in Arts from Monash University and is the winner of the Victoria Multicultural Awards for Excellence. You can find him on LinkedIn as Sam Shlansky