In the last post, I discussed the magic behind successful design thinking: representing ideas in order to have a visual, tangible model that can be assessed and adjusted. A simple example was given to represent a week by using objects from each day. However, we need to dive deeper into this practice to understand what exactly you should represent and why it's useful.
Today, I will share the constructs to help you represent ideas and problem—I call them the four cores of culture. These categories can be translated to every system that exists around us. When looking for clues and solutions, designers re-create and investigate these cores to discover how each part works together. It's like building a puzzle. Here are the four realms to represent.
LOCATION: Every idea (or issue) has a setting where it lives—a building, a geography, a space. Begin representing a concept by identifying and creating its location and whatever lies around it. Often, this core is the best layer to start with because it provides context for the idea.
OBJECTS: Objects are all around us. Identify the objects that represent your idea. This was the basis for last week's example. Furniture, computers, products- consider the many items that might represent and impact your concept. You can always subtract later if they are deemed irrelevant. Once placed in the context of your environment, these objects affect the space. Keep adding!
VISUALS/LANGUAGE: We are constantly surrounded by signs and symbols that communicate messages: colors, logos, slogans, billboards, and packaging. Collect and review the words, signs, and symbols that influence your idea. Place them in your setting, or in a space on their own.
EXPERIENCE: When we add people into the mix, they experience a combination of location, objects, and language over a span of time. Using the cores together, you build an experience. After all, none of the cores matter if there aren't people interacting with them. You can use a timeline to give order to the experience, as this is usually the clearest way to organize a sequence of events.
Educators might notice that this bears a similar resemblance to project-based learning—and they are correct. The reason why design thinking is closely tied to project-based learning is because the best way to learn about a problem or idea is to recreate it in tangible form using one or all four cores of culture. By doing so, you can examine the problem as both the teacher and student. The representation allows you to see relationships between the four cores and to then identify gaps or opportunities that were previously invisible. Practice developing this perception by building your ideas using the four cores. Share with a friend or colleague and ask- what's missing? Do you see it the same way? This is how you find insights—you learn them.