Unpacking Design Thinking: Test

Unpacking Design Thinking: Test

If you made it to the test space, you really do have a good grasp of design thinking.

Testing is the culmination of empathizedefineideateprototype spaces of design thinking.  Problems have been framed and potential solutions prototyped but teams have not yet engaged in focused, real-life, real-time testing.  The ultimate users are intimately involved in testing — they may take home a prototyped-product to use or participate in a simulation where they play roles.

Always prototype as if you know you’re right, but test as if you know you’re wrong — testing is the chance to refine your solutions and make them better.” —  waag society for art, science & technology

The Hasso Plattner Design School (d. school) at Stanford University suggests three major reasons for testing.

  • To refine prototypes and solutions by informing the next iteration of a prototype even if it means going back to the drawing board
  • To accelerates the learning process by providing additional opportunities to learn about users often through deeper engagement and observation that yield totally unthought-of and unexpected insights.
  • To reveal instances when individuals and teams failed to frame problems correctly, which may invalidate favored solutions.

Testing is a user experience — not a response to predetermined questions. It is crucial ensure that potential users of a product, experience or system interpret the prototype without explicit guidance. Observing reactions provide data for evaluation of a particular prototype that may also reveal never-before articulated needs that design thinkers may have to address in order to find the most appropriate or “right” solution to a problem or challenge.

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The user is always involved in testing the prototype

For example, Kaiser Permanente used design thinking to lessen nursing shift changes from 40 minutes to 12 by involving nurses and practitioners in all spaces of design thinking culminating in testing system prototypes in real hospital wards.

That is the beauty of an approach that considers constant re-thinking based on feedback.  Iteration may be messy and take a bit more time than top-down decision making, but the ultimate product, experience or system actually will be used by satisfied consumers, be they teachers with a new curriculum, museums with interactive exhibits, or health care providers in developing countries with streamlined diagnostic services.







Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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