October 2012
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Day 01/10/2012

…* {other people}

Your daily bite-sized source of rethinking…* inspiration:


Mmm–people! It seems to me that you need a lot of courage, or a lot of something, to enter into others, into other people. We all think that everyone else lives in fortresses, in fastnesses: behind moats, behind sheer walls studded with spikes and broken glass. But in fact we inhabit much punier structures. We are, it turns out, all jerry-built. Or not even. You can just stick your head under the flap of the tent and crawl right in. If you get the okay. -Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis

Road Map for Design Thinking Implementation Process

Today marks the beginning of the Implementation/Prototyping phase of the Design Thinking cycle of rethinked*annex (woohoo!). I thought this a good opportunity to regroup, debrief & start imagining the next phases coming up.

WHERE I’VE BEEN: Over my month of discovery I:

STRUGGLED to define a challenge.

WENT on a design thinking date and learned about empathy and perspective.

PARTICIPATED in a prototyping workshop with Parsons’ students for their course Learn.Engage.Design. where I learned the importance of framing the constraints of a prototype.

READ Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future and found a useful framework (Aptitudes for the Conceptual Age) for contextualizing the three disciplines of rethinked*annex: design thinking, positive psychology and integrative thinking.

RETHOUGHT…* the rethinked*annex project and changed the fourth cycle from being based off of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics to being based off Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind (running title for that fourth cycle is now: Aptitudes for the Conceptual Age)

STARTED the discovery phase of rethinking…* the eating experience project and defined a second challenge: reframing/rethinking…* my perception & experience of winter (more on that in a future post).

LEARNED about managing my energy to avoid decision fatigue & be able to focus my resources on tasks that align with my purpose and greater sources of meaning in my life.

EXPLORED the vast system of information that is the Internet to learn as much as I could about the design thinking process.


At this stage (the next couple of weeks) I am planning on focusing all my energy in discovering, exploring and laying out the topography of both design challenges I have delineated for myself: rethinking…* the eating experience in its entirety (from my kitchen to my behavior) and redesigning my approach to/perception of winter. Concretely that means:

SKETCHING out the topography of the various elements of each challenge’s environment. Consider the:

  • Users
  • Activities
  • Interactions
  • Objects

EXPLORING visually each challenge’s environmentKeep it organized via Pinterest boards. (I have already set up three boards for the rethinking…* eating challenge: food, objects, environments.)

IDENTIFYING a protagonist for my story & considering

  • Ambitions
  • Challenges
  • Motivations

VISITING analogous environments & recording my observations.

INTERVIEWING other people to find out their own model of each challenge to broaden my own understanding of the issue.

INTEGRATING other people’s models (of eating/cooking & winter) to create a new model that draws from the benefits of the various models I’ve explored.

GATHERING Post-it Notes, Sharpies, arts & crafts supply & some Playmobils/Legos.

MAKING a Thinking Wall: a place to visually record & map out my ideas & observations along each stage of my various projects.

AGGREGATING tools & resources pertaining to the Discovery phase of the design thinking process from the various sources I have encountered in my research. Make a Design Thinking Discovery ‘cheat sheet’.

CREATING a space to fail: I have been in active discovery mode {re} rethinking…* the eating experience challenge for the past two weeks but have given very little thought to the other challenge: reframing winter. This was done intentionally to allow for greater opportunities to prototype and incorporate my own feedback in real time. By starting one project two weeks before the other, I have given myself ample space and time to fail and learn from my mistakes.


The next six weeks are dedicated to the “implementation/prototyping’ phase of the design thinking cycle. Here is how I have decided to allocate my time:

Rethinking…* the eating experience = …* E

Rethinking…* winter = …* W

October 1-8

  •  …* E: Last week of discovery
  •  …* W: Discovery, week I

October 8-15

  • * E: Start Brainstorm phase: identify themes & patterns, start thinking of potential solutions.
  • * W: Discovery, Week II

October 15-22

  • * E: Start prototyping
  • * W: Start Brainstorm phase: identify themes & patterns, start thinking of potential solutions.

October 22-29

  • * E: Prototyping, week II
  • * W: Start prototyping

October 23-November 5

  • * E: Prototyping, week III
  • * W: Prototyping, week II

November 5- 11

  • * E : Prototyping, week IV
  • * W: Prototyping, week III

* These dates and deadlines should not be understood as binding dividers between the various stages of each cycle. I think of the deadlines more as productive constraints to keep myself moving the project along. I had originally wanted to focus on doing a design thinking challenge that would involve some aspect of my community but I have decided to focus on two personal challenges first, get a better sense of the process and its potential pitfalls and once I have run through both of these challenges, I will start defining a neighborhood/community challenge to work on over the winter.


Because rethinked*annex is a prototype itself–a new way to experiment with one’s behaviors and outlook on life–it is important that I take the time to reflect and seek feedback on what is working and what needs improvement along each stages so that I can keep the project evolving. 


  • Experimenting with a broad range of ways to integrate these ideas into my every day
  • Keeping the big picture in mind and continually seeking to understand and integrate the connections between the various disciplines of rethinked*annex.
  • Following up with the ideas that I discover and experiment with: taking the time to act them out and experiment with them and then following up a bit later to reflect on each experience.


  • I need to craft a sort of weekly road map for myself to ensure that things keep moving along. This is especially important now that I’m in the implementation phase. My goal is to have a working and satisfying iteration of whatever solutions I come up with for each of the challenges by the end of the 6 weeks of implementation/prototyping.
  • I worry I have been focusing too much on ideas and not enough on emotions. Rethinked*annex is about making ideas tangible, messy and human. Emotions play an obvious role in the process of humanizing ideas. I think I should keep a record of the various emotions I experience and when, in the process, they occur.
  • I’m not reading as many books on the subject as I would like. I have been sifting through hundreds of online article, which has been a very educational exercise, but I would like to round out my article research with longer reads containing more complex and in-depth analysis of the discipline.
  •  I also haven’t been doing a great job of diversifying my readings book wise. Most of the books I’ve read on Design Thinking have been by IDEOers (Tim Brown, David Kelley). I’m worried that I’m getting too much of one interpretation of the design thinking process at the expense of others that might be out there.
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