Post by Tate Rider
Now that we have finished our first design project, I find myself
wondering how different the outcome of this project is different from
other class projects (not d.school classes) I have undertaken at
The process was certainly different from other class projects. Usually
we start with a basic idea of a solution and then work backwards from
there. With this project, I had to try really hard to not think about
solutions immediately — and honestly, at times it felt frustrating.
But as the project progressed I started to see the method to the
madness. Our “unpacking” of the interviews took more time than our
group had anticipated, but I also think it yielded insights about
Sierra Leone communities that we never would have surfaced otherwise.
Similarly, the ideation phase forced us to think exhaustively about
all of the different ways we could design for our user. This felt much
more open-ended than other class projects, and some ideas that at
first sounded silly actually had some interesting insights once we
discussed them in more depth.
However, even if the process seemed much more creative and open than
other class projects, the end result actually felt similar. In the
end, we handed off a project to our sponsor with the mutual hope that
something would come out of it, but none of us at Stanford will
probably ever see its implementation. Coming to terms with this is
somewhat disappointing because one of the parts of the design process
I like most is that ideas can be tested incrementally instead of with
a massive upfront investment. This is particularly insight when
working with governance, since the temptation is to invest heavily and
assess the results (if at all) later.
Of course, part of this is the nature of the five-week class. I’m
grateful for the experience and having Simeon on the ground with us to
give a reality check in realtime. But as I look toward the next design
project literally next door in East Palo Alto, I’m already thinking
how I can learn from the process we just went through, and also how we
can test it further with our neighbor.