ETC (express - test - cycle), designing is simple

ETC (express - test - cycle)  - I was glad to rediscover this straightforward way of describing the product design process when rereading “The Achievement Habit” by Bernard Roth, a founder of Stanford and the design thinking movement. I would call it sophisticated simplicity and I am glad I am getting there myself.

Over the past five years I have been ploughing through numerous design methodologies, truly diving in, and then resurfacing (sequence of events during a design process well described at Cornell) with the realisation that it basically is about doing and testing and redoing. Surely there are several good methods that one can use along the way, but there is no need to complicate things with unnecessary twists and turns.

For my own record and for readers’ interest (hopefully) I have documented some of the sources that I have consumed to figure out the design process. So that it would work for myself and be useful for running workshops with my clients.

One of the most obvious authors a service design enthusiast reads is Mark Stickdorn. It is fantastic how openly he shares his knowledge, all the way to facilitator guides for design workshops. Just take the stuff and start doing! I also (groupie?) managed to see him perform on stage at the service design conference in Budapest in 2017 where he focused on the user journey and how to zoom into the very details of it. Later I enjoyed his Service Design Doing book quite a bit.

When I started my studies at the Interaction Design Master’s programme of Estonian Academy of Arts, it was refreshing to learn that we would do design and not have to read about it. Nevertheless, our mentor Amid Moradganjeh published a book of his own – “Anyone Can Design. Even a Kitten”. He says that design is too important to be left to a bunch of designers. I loved the concept because it liberated me of the prejudice that designer equals graphic designer. The book talks about empathy, designing for values and getting things done. Very inspiring!

Stanford resources are great to get started with design thinking and immediately applying it in practice. Doing the 90 minute design thinking crash course – I have been both participating and facilitating – is a lot of fun. You can see how people who start out with “OMG! I cannot draw” evolve in half an hour as true creators.

IDEO resources are another goldmine. Besides learning the tools, reading their case studies demonstrates how human centered design helps solve issues of great social significance around the entire world. Their work really has an impact on the lives of thousands of people and gives design a much deeper meaning than just making functional beautiful things or creating useful services.

When considering facilitation of design workshops, there is no way around the Google Design Sprint which originally was a five day undertaking, now it has shrunk to four days. I stole a number of methods from this book and luckily came upon the facilitator guide as well. There are sceptics who say it does not work but that is what sceptics are for.

When you want to introduce energy and smart ways of achieving a creative mindset in workshops, Hyper Island toolbox is the place to go for inspiration and some cool exercises. 

There are many more methods and tools that I have come across but at some point you get overwhelmed by all the knowhow piling up.  In order to filter out my own design journey and choose the methods I want to use, master and develop used the double diamond coined by the British Design Council (discover, define, develop, deliver) as the canvas for laying out all the methods. I have picked them according to occasion from then on.


Now, after having dived into great amounts of information and resurfaced and made sense of it all, I may conclude that really it is quite straightforward, designing is about doing and testing (empathy). And I remind myself often of phrase I read somewhere that success comes to those who act. So glad I came across this book again!

Add a comment

Email again: