EXPERIMENTS WITH BRAINSTORMING
I wrote my Master’s thesis with Center for Advanced Visualization and Interaction at Aarhus University, and my project was a part of the Creativity in Blended Interaction Spaces, which was concerned with how creative processes could be supported in a hybrid digital/physical environment.
My focus was on concept development and how to create progress in the design process by focusing on the convergent phase of concept development, which is the phase where the ideas are evaluated and sorted.
As a research experiment, I facilitated a series of workshops where I tested different approaches to support the convergent phase in a concept development session. I wanted to find out if a better convergent phase required a more planned process or more freedom.
After the first part of the workshop, where the group was asked to get as many ideas as possible in 45 minutes, I asked them to find the two best ideas. I told them to keep the users’ needs as well as their overall goal in mind when evaluating the concepts. After that they were asked to generate a concept using the best parts of the two concepts.
The second workshop followed the same formula, but when I asked them to find the two best ideas, I first wanted them to create a series of goals for the experience as well as aspects that were unwanted. These were written down on post-it notes, green for the positive aspects and red for the negative ones. Then the group was asked to evaluate the concepts using these goals. The two concepts that had the best positive to negative ratio were the concepts the group had to use to make their final concept.
WHAT I LEARNED
The first workshop went really well. The process made the group very productive. The fact that they were forced to choose two ideas meant that they had to really think about what was important, and thus they felt the result was better. The second workshop was much longer and the group was tired at the end of the workshop. The result wasn’t better, and the group in the first workshop did make a lot of rational arguments when discussing their decisions.
In the end, I learned that convergence is just as important as divergence even though we, as designers, focus so much on divergence. However, the convergent phase doesn’t have to be tedious in order to work.
The project ended with a digital prototype, mostly inspired by the first workshop.