Design Thinking

I hope we can start sending our folks to courses in design-thinking. I think this is where we need to be headed as MFBLs:
“Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.” Source: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

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I 100% agree. I’ve posted it on another topic, but a great starting point is The Design of Everyday Things:

If we are going to find solutions as Mission Focused Business Leaders, understanding design is critical. It applies to contracts, tools, guides…almost anything we create to communicate with others.

In the Government, our office is often its own little monopoly so people have to use what we provide to them (there is no other choice). If it is possible to get the job done with what we provide, it is good enough. We should be striving to make it easy for our mission partners to use our tools & products. Sadly, many organizations are proud of how complicated they make their process because in a weird way it validates their contribution to the larger organization.

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Take one of the simpliest things as an example: How many offices have customer education guides? How many pages are they? What is the readability score (e.g., Flesch–Kincaid)? Do customers really use them? If yes, to what degree? How effective are they? Do we care? Most often they are written for other contracting shops to wow over.

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Yes to Design Thinking! It’s a structured problem-solving methodology and mindset that can bring innovation and new ideas into traditional spaces. Many companies have their own design thinking toolkits that are open to the public to use on their own teams. At MITRE, we’ve curated the Innovation Toolkit and our AiDA site also lists some good resources:
www.itk.mitre.org
https://aida.mitre.org/blog/2019/03/26/apply-design-thinking/

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Curated is such an interesting and powerful word. In Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s book Rework they talk about being curators.

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Wow! Love that you dropped a Rework reference. It will open your mind to different ways of thinking. With a little imagination, most of the principles can be applied to the Government.

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Read it based on your recommendation! Now I recommend it.

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Haven’t heard of this book, but added to my list! “Curation” is a big theme in my life right now, so great timing. Thanks for the rec! @Part_50 @axelclark

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Interesting perspective on design from an Air Force NCO…

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“Success for a project manager is delivering a defined scope of work on-time and on-budget.” Product management, meanwhile, “is focused on delivering a product a user wants or needs.” Success for a product manager “is delivering a product that users love – and use to complete tasks (or in the private sector – a product customers will pay for).” If you worked for a private sector tech firm on developing customer-facing applications, product management would be part of your everyday reality. In government, it has been absent.

How does “human centered design” work in practice? For many years, it has been considered a good practice in government acquisition to consult eventual users about what they want from a new product. However, aside from the fact that in reality this is often not done, the traditional government practice is part of requirements development as part of a waterfall acquisition process at the beginning of an acquisition. At this point, eventual users are interviewed about what features they might like without ever having seen an actual product. Often (as observers of such efforts have often noted) the users have little idea of what they want. Human centered design does not use surveys but rather gives users a prototype of the new product and asks them to interact with it. The product manager watches them use things, including usability testing and funnel testing (observing how a user interacts with a multi-step application or other process, when people start giving up).

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Back when I was studying art in college, it was drilled in my brain that (aside from ideas are king and equally a dime a dozen), good design philosophy is important. Might be good to go down a rabbit hole and consider the work of Dieter Rams and his “Good Design” principles.

https://web.archive.org/web/20120904120034/

http://www.sfmoma.org/about/press/press_exhibitions/releases/880

Its good food-for-thought to avoid dark UX patterns (fancytalk for misleading user experience patterns) and not going too nuts with over-complicated (too clever) design. The very same principles, though easily understood, is extremely hard to execute too.

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The label next to the checkbox says “Gang.” This is the term used to describe when the controls for the right and left propellors are connected. When this box is checked, the right and left sliders move together. When unchecked, you can move either slider without affecting the other. Perhaps “Gang” is the wrong word to describe this locking function, but let’s give the Navy the benefit of the doubt that sailors are familiar with this term.

The moment this box became unchecked confusion began to spread through the bridge. The crew believed they had lost control of the ship because they were relying on the main steering controls, the rudder, without realizing that the ship was turning because of the secondary steering method, propellors set at different speeds. During the three minutes of confusion, the destroyer veered into the lane of another ship where it was hit.

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usability testing! test! test! test! test to the level of “if my parents was to use this thing, will this interface make sense?”

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