Thinking Like a Designer


Today was Mustang Rally day, which is basically field day and a carnival mixed together. It’s fairly fun for the most part. To be honest though, most of the high schoolers specifically tend to get bored with the beginning because after the parade march in of all of the grades, we sit down on the field and watch grades one at a compete in an event to see if the blue or gold team will win.

Now I love the concept of Mustang Rally– a fun day for the entire MVPS community to get together and celebrate another great year that is almost over. However, I wonder about the design opportunity with the opening events. HMW convey the same message of fun in the community with a greater student bye in from all ages?

Without doing to much investigation work, I think part of the disconnect is caused because students have too much sitting time. It is hard for anyone to sit still and watch other kids play for an hour and a halfish. A smaller part, but still a factor, may be that we can’t always hear the microphone very well because the speakers are aimed towards the parents and other guests that come, not towards the students. I wonder if this makes it easier for kids to tune out.

Now trying to think like a designer, I have also done some brain storming in my head involuntarily.

  • What if we created teams that had maybe 2ish kids from every grade level, and then we set up the beginning like a field day where everyone rotates doing a wide array of events?
  • What if we kept it set up the same, but rather than one grade at a time doing an activity, the activities had mixed grade levels. For example, what if high schoolers raced with kids on their backs.
  • What if there was a big game of capture the flag between the blue and gold teams which was the event for everyone?
  • What if students got to pick what event they participated in?
  • What the entire day was the carnival but there was sporadically different big activities on the field that were like our powderpuff football and volleyball games? For example, what if we had middle and high school soccer games where the teams were mixed up?
  • What if we incorporated teachers into the games too?

And those were some of my brainstorming thoughts.

Now to be honest, I don’t see this as something I personally take on as a venture. At least not anytime soon due to everything I’m already working on. However, I’d be quite curious if someone else were to take on this venture, as to what they would discover.

I haven’t done any specific empathy work, so I’d imagine first steps, after maybe doing an activity to get the preconceived ideas out of the way (kind of like the brainstorming I did based on what I’ve observed), would be to ask some teachers about the purpose of Mustang Rally. Then there would need to be some interview of students to figure out their opinions.

I imagine there would be a disconnect here somewhere, and that would be the design point to explore.

I wonder if the hypothetical venture team (collaboration always is needed at some point, so I’ll assume it is a team) could even organize mock versions of activities over weekends before the actual Mustang Rally in order to high res prototype after drawing and making visuals of the low res prototypes (or any kind of low res prototype with feedback of course).

I wonder who it would even be that this team would need to pitch their idea to and who they would talk to to learn more about the event. Now thinking about it, I have no idea who is in charge of Mustang Rally or how far in advanced it starts being planned.

I wonder if anyone will actually take on and go further with this venture opportunity.

And this all goes to prove how a designer never stops thinking.

I know I’m probably not going to take this much further at least in the immediate present (I mean I may share the idea about taking it on as a venture to someone), but never the less, when I noticed this bug today, in my head I immediately started to imagine the steps and process one would need to go through in order to make a change.

Not everyone thinks this way, but for me personally, I think thinking like a designer helps for me to not get caught up on the bugs themselves, but instead to get lost in though on the ideas. It makes even little things seem a little more interesting and complex.

(This reminds me of a chapter in The Falconer, a book I read a while ago by Grant Lichtman which I have several blog post about because it was mind blowing! This particular chapter was about systems and about how much more effects a system than what you may first realize. When writing about my thoughts today, I couldn’t help but think about how a lot of my wonder questions have to do with better understanding the system so I thought I would make a note of that.)

I’ve had ID to help me further my knowledge and experience with thinking like a designer, but I know not all students think this way. I believe thinking like a designer makes situations a bit more fun, so I wonder how I can encourage others to think like a designer too. (Then the next step is to act like a designer because that is when things get real!)

5 thoughts on “Thinking Like a Designer

  1. I feel like this post is an incredible inflection point for you. I’m so proud of your growth as a learner and an innovator for so many reasons, but this post is such a clear example of success for you. It’s one thing to go through the motions of creating bug lists and observing for opportunity and change when we ask you to do that as part of your program work in Innovation Diploma. But what you’re doing here is instinctively using the tools we’ve worked hard to sharpen and exercising muscles we’ve been building all year – and it seems pretty natural for you! The fact that you aren’t complaining about how boring the event was for you or the fact that you resisted assumptions so many times in this post is incredible. I love that you understand there is a large system at work, and you don’t pretend to know all the parts of the system. You realize that in order to innovate the Rally, though, one must understand all of those pieces. And in order to make any change, you realize that you need to do some discovery work, maybe even a Know / Need-to-Know, and some empathy work through interviews. I love your idea of experimenting with prototypes even before the event – you know how much we push the Disney cohort to create and share iterations even before you think they’re ready to “become public.”

    I also commend you for realizing you have enough on your plate (maybe too much) to tackle this right now, but not letting that deter you from finding someone to champion your idea. It’s hard to acknowledge that you can’t work on everything even if you are qualified and interested in the work that needs to be done.

    Thank you for sharing this post with me and with your followers – you’re certainly living and breathing the behaviors of an innovator in all the work you do. You should feel proud.

  2. Anya, I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Cureton’s comments. With a school full of designers there will be some who will decide to take on this challenge. What I love is that most people just move to solutions without going through the full DT process. I look forward to continuing to watch you grow as a designer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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