Monday, July 22, 2013

Why do solvers go off brief?

The problem-statement brief changes as soon as you read it. We all see different aspects of the brief with varying degrees of attention and focus. The more complex the document the more varied the perception of it amongst the solvers. We see the things that interest us first: the things we know how to do or have done before.  These biases are difficult to avoid without following a strict critical thinking methodology. The variations of perspectives, on the other hand, can lead to deeper and more creative insights when the problem solving process is made "public"and shared.

This diagram (click to view) represents the "hidden" nature of the solving process. If you can involve the client in some of your "synthesis" steps the less disingenuous rationalization you'll need to do when it comes time to present your solutions.

The creative process is often hidden from the key stakeholders. They don't participate in the synthesis, which is a messy and protracted event that's difficult to unravel and even more difficult to share. It evades scrutiny and description and therefore never really surfaces for discussion during the final presentation stages. Instead, the primary stakeholders are subject to a dog and pony show that attempts to rationalize the final solution in light of the original brief which is in fact a "different"one for the solvers.

There is an approach to "surfacing" the synthesis as described by Jon Kolko*. He calls this a synthesis framework which involves 3 basic steps.
  1. Prioritizing
  2. Judging
  3. Forging connections
By naming the process, making it more tangible the client can not only see how you got to your solution, they can also participate. I think it's important to emphasize that the client (the authors/owners of the problem statement, as well as the researchers, directors of a problem-finding mission) have much more knowledge about the issue at hand than the solvers. What a waste of a valuable resource if you cannot include them in your creative problem solving process.

•Kolko, J. (2010). Abductive thinking and sensemaking: The drivers of design synthesis. Design Issues, 26(1), 15-28. Retrieved from sites/ drivers of design synthesis.pdf