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Syinc Blog

Here we muse about creativity & innovation, and document (some of) the work we're doing about it in Singapore.

Getting in the shoes

Chris

29 Dec 2011

... of our users, that is.

We continued on our journey to find ways to improve the quality of life of migrant workers in Singapore. A quick recap from previous episodes: we did interviews. And created a "User Journey Map".

How we did it: Extracting insights from the interviews. Putting both observations and the insights into a chart that visually shows the user's experience chronologically (and then refining it some more). 

This served as a great foundation of inspiration (the first, and often the most important, phase of design thinking), and preps us for the next stage - ideation. Typically in conventional innovation, this is the point where you do brainstorming/solutioning (if not much earlier). But, we figured - why design for them, when you can design with them? 

And that’s how we ended up sitting in front of our whiteboard with a group of Foreign Domestic Workers, employers of FDWs, people familiar with the Ministry of Manpower and some more people from HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics). All armed with yellow, orange, blue and pink post-its of course. And a carpet. We love the carpet.

As you can see below, we ended up with … something that looks like the upcoming MRT Downtown Line.

What was amazingly useful about it: enabling us to identify points of tension from various perspectives to create opportunity areas for further exploration. 

What were some (other) things we learnt? 

The process of design thinking is meant to be iterative, not linear. Through our conversation, we found certain knowledge gaps and interesting areas of exploration not identified during our interviews, and we never hesitated to pause the ideation session and turn it into an insight-gathering one. 

Facilitation is useful, but good facilitation is invaluable. We didn't just listen to what people said, but also what they didn't say, and what their body language showed. This got us asking relevant questions to gain even deeper insights to certain points of tension. 

Also, designing with our users doesn't mean they know what design thinking is about. But users don't have to be design thinkers - the steps of DT are intuitive enough to understand without the jargon. Instead, we focused on using good facilitation (which reinforces the above point) to bring the process through with clear communication and action. 

More to come. Watch this space.

Previous post here

 

drawing inputs from our different stakeholder perspectives

constructing our user journey map - collaboratively. 

voila.

PS. Our next Think&Drink features none other than Singapore's Toilet Man, Jack Sim! 

... of our users, that is.

A quick recap from previous episodes: we did interviews.

So we were thinking – why design for our users when we can design with them?

That’s how we – and we mean SYINC – ended up sitting in front of our whiteboard with a group of Foreign Domestic Workers, employers of FDWs, people familiar with the Ministry of Manpower and some more people from HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics).

All armed with yellow, orange, blue and pink post-its of course. And a carpet. We love the carpet.

As you can see below, we ended up with … something that looks like the upcoming Downtown Line.

But Design Thinking is not meant to be linear, it is meant to be branchy, complex and maybe with a few thorns. Like a Christmas tree. So thus all the feeder bus services branching out from the main line from the main line.

Not that the users all knew what Design Thinking was about of course but you do not need to know what Design Thinking is to give ideas. Certainly not all of them -  given the different groups they were from - were of the same viewpoint. All the better – more clutter and post its on our wall!

We wanted to slap ourselves for not thinking of this earlier. Because here in SYINC, we realized that many cooks make rich broth. So Happy 2012 everyone! And we hope that those Christmas Trees of ideas are growing too.