Recalibrating “Normal”

Recalibrating “Normal”

Editorial || June 2016 Recalibrating “Normal” Kevin Shane Keywords: Reflection, Context, Design Research, Culture Being an “expat” comes with many benefits, and challenges. Topmost on the list of the latter for a majority of those living this life is adjusting to new cultures, and their associated norms. This often means that the scale of the challenge is directly proportional to the deviations between your known “normal” and the new one you find yourself residing in. Being an American living in India, this adjustment took some time, and it didn’t really hit home how much this notion of normalcy has changed over the past 4+ years until recently. I’m from a very small town in Western New York state in the U.S., population of less than 2,000 people, and I moved to Delhi in February 2012, a city sporting nearly 20,000,000 inhabitants. In all fairness, I didn’t move straight from one to the other; I share those factoids more as a way of setting context a bit. Despite living in cities all over the U.S., and overseas, it is the experience of growing up in small town America that set the foundation – or lens – for the viewing the world around me, for better and worse. The smaller the town, the larger the echo chamber as the potential for exposure to different opinions, ways of life, and customs and traditions are lessened by a greater degree; people of shared experiences tend to have shared outlooks, which leads to an acceptance of what one believes to be “normal” is a universal truth, and any deviation thereof is perceived to be threatening, or...
Design by Nature vs. Nature by Design

Design by Nature vs. Nature by Design

Editorial || June 2016 Design by Nature vs. Nature by Design Amey Bansod Keywords: Human-Centered Design, Gardening, Design, Exploration My trials with the garden began with a mini-project in design school, where we were asked to examine a philosophic or poetic insight into the garden/act of gardening – which would later be helpful in determining its shape and structure. It wasn’t until I launched an inquiry into it that I figured that a garden could be a perfect space for a truly effortless play on countless materials and ideas. And to me, as much as the activity of gardening was to work with my hands, it is also one where I always happen to talk to myself a lot. The talk often revolves around a sense of wonder and amazement at the more simpler truths in life. However, far from reiterating the virtues of gardening or the shades of zen it brings to the being (beliefs that I fully subscribe to), I wanted to reflect upon how my interests in growing and raising plants have come to percolate down into my practice of design at Quicksand. Over the past few years of mulling the question of why I like to garden, I realize that while by definition planting seeds and growing plants is what it’s all about, true joy comes with bringing things to life. There is a relationship to be developed, a life to be celebrated and in all the u-turns and surprises when a plant decides to respond to mulching, fertilizing or picking off pests, those moments contribute to lasting memories that are stronger than any others. Ultimately –...
Design Thinking Tools & Activities

Design Thinking Tools & Activities

Newsletter || 2Q 2016 Design Thinking Tools & Activities Sara Legg Keywords: Design Thinking, Workshops, Ideation, Collaboration In the past 8 months Quicksand has engaged in over 10 workshops across a variety of contexts in multiple countries. It can be easy to use the word ‘workshop’ as a catch-all term for structured activities with stakeholders. But in practice each workshop is a unique instance, unlike others before or after it. This can make it challenging to choose appropriate tools and activities. The format and tools used in our design workshops are dictated by the intended output relative to the design thinking process, as well as the unique needs and concerns of the participants. Shared here are some high-level categories of design tools and ways of using them, as well as a selection of typical challenges encountered during workshops. Ultimately, the most helpful approach is building a working knowledge of what the types of outputs tools may elicit and feedback you or others are seeking. One should also try to remain flexible, and encourage flexibility amongst those you are working with. Deciding on tools How do you decide what tool to bring to an ideation or co-creation session, whether it be a workshop, lab, or field test? The first obvious consideration is the phase of the design thinking process. Workshop activities are usually strategically placed along the project plan from the beginning, but they can also happen spontaneously. For example, a visioning workshop would be appropriate towards the beginning of a project, while an impromptu internal workshop with your team to gain clarity on how to proceed could happen at any point in the process. Next,...
Documenting Design Thinking: A Photo Essay

Documenting Design Thinking: A Photo Essay

Editorial || June 2016 Quicksand’s Workshops & Ideation Sessions: A Photo Essay Amey Bansod Keywords: Workshops, Human-Centered Design, Ideation, Photo Essay Quicksand hosting an Ideation Workshop in Tanzania Babitha and Kevin presenting research findings from the field Observing, Documenting and Sorting Participants view thematic opportunity areas at the workshop in Tanzania. Quicksand hosting a design thinking workshop in Mali Ayush leading a brainstorm on intervention opportunities, Mali. Journey mapping the malnutrition ecosystem and stakeholders Amey leading training sessions in Bhopal, to assess efficacy and usability of a toolkit A healthcare centre in South Sudan Left: A child being assessed for malnutrition by a Healthcare Volunteer Top: Amey leading a training workshop in South Sudan Right: Kevin soliciting and documenting end-user feedback Top: Testing tools with beneficiaries. Top : Ayush starts an introductory discussion on design and design thinking at the Reach workshop, Bangalore. Top Right: Bas Raijmakers from STBY, leading a break-out facilitator session at the...
Quicksand’s Workshops & Ideation Sessions

Quicksand’s Workshops & Ideation Sessions

Editorial || June 2016 Quicksand’s Workshops & Ideation Sessions Kevin Shane Keywords: Workshops, Human-Centered Design, Ideation, Collaboration During the course of any Quicksand engagement, workshops and ideation sessions play a critical role. This is particularly true in client-facing projects, but also manifest themselves in our incubated projects, in planning for UnBox-related activities and events, during the course of our annual off-site team regroups, and even in our long-term planning. A perfect example of the latter of these took place last year around Quicksand’s 10-year anniversary as we discussed the vision for the next decade of our practice. The activity started with a brainstorming session to identify the most critical areas of our operations (i.e., business development, communications, knowledge management, learning & development, finance, project delivery), as well as an honest evaluation of each to identify opportunity areas for improvement and augmentation. This was followed by a hackathon in which each pillar was detailed out by individuals before presenting them back to the larger group for feedback and further refinement. This process provided a rapid, iterative, and participatory framework for tackling a strategic need of the company in developing a long-term roadmap for its growth. Design thinking is not new, though its value and influence has grown and expanded into more and diverse contexts over the past few years. It’s predicated on empathising and engaging with end-users or beneficiaries of a product, service, or system, and is often viewed through the lens of 5 distinct phases: Empathize: Immersion in an issue or challenge to experience it from an end-user’s perspective Define: Building off the empathic insights, structure both the problem and a solution Ideate: Take...