The Right Problem?


For the past few weeks in ID we’ve been working on a design challenge around “healthy living”. My team started with a picture of an abandoned garden at the Upper School, but since then we have talked to a few science teachers, worked with 5th graders to interview our Head of School, and talked to some students which all lead us to pivot our idea to working on recycling at MVPS.

Last Thursday, all of the different teams gave their first pitches for the idea they’re working on, and my team pitched the idea of a redesigned trash/recycling bin that connected the two bins and used vertical space rather than horizontal space.

To be honest, I felt like most of the feedback on our pitch was related to the presentation and people wanting to know more about the facts we had researched. For example, we discovered that the way most landfills our designed makes it so that practically nothing biodegrades, and if it does, it does very, very, very slowly to the point where it doesn’t make a significant difference. Many people then wanted to know more about landfills and the way they are constructed.

Also people suggested talking about differences between Atlanta vs. California and America vs. Sweden to gain more support from our audience in terms of how other places aren’t having recycling problems like we are.

We did get a little feedback on the overall design of our product with suggestions about making it a contest for who gets to design the art on the bins so that it is cleaner and more organized, which I think is a great idea!

Someone also questioned the design of having to open up the bin rather than being able to just toss trash or recycling into the bin more easily; however, we actually intentionally designed it this way because by making people work a little harder, they have to be more conscious with their choice to recycle or throw away. The fact that this question was asked though, made me realize that it is something we need to bring up when discussing our product.

I feel like some of the biggest next steps for my team is to actually make a full scale prototype. I was actually a little disappointed with our team for not having that finished before the pitch because I think it made it harder for the audience to visualize our product since only half of it was done. I think it would be interesting to then ask a teacher if we could test our prototype in their room to see how students react to it to then make further changes before trying to pitch that they be put in every classroom. For this later pitch, I think we will also need to get more specific with what materials our product would be made of, and how much these materials would cost to buy and be put together.

I also still wonder though about where our recycling actually goes. This topic came up during our feedback, because many people have heard rumors that the recycling still ends up being picked up with the trash, and if this is true, then it won’t be much help at all even if more people start correctly using recycling bins and thus we’d be in the position of solving for the wrong problem. I wonder how we can test this rumor so we can make sure we are solving for the right problem.


5 thoughts on “The Right Problem?

  1. Great reflection, Anya. You do a wonderful job recapping your challenge for new readers without providing too much detail. We did talk a bit recently about organization (but I know most of your posts are written in stream of consciousness, which is a stylistic choice you make). In terms of thinking more deeply about the feedback, I do wonder what insights you could gain from the fact that most of the commentary/feedback you received was on the pitch itself and on the lack of detailed facts. I wonder what that reveals to you about the needs of an audience? How do you balance what the audience needs with what the message is you’re trying to convey? How could you be sure you receive feedback on what you want feedback on without taking away from the presentation as a whole?

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