Trust the Process & Always Be Moving Forward

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I went into the first assignment of Rapid Ideation and Problem Solving feeling great about my role as a designer. I knew then, as I know now, that I have a great amount of work ahead of me if I want to achieve the goals I have set for my career. One of those goals is to be autonomous in my work as a designer; Start projects, make proposals, create wonderful and exciting things that benefit the world.

A big part of how I am becoming autonomous comes from the feedback I received from my peers and faculty at the conclusion of quarter one. I was given feedback on my behavior interacting within conversations and presentations, criticism on my time management skills, and my inability to take complex information and synthesize it into digestible stories or visual representations. A member of the faculty gave me this feedback,

“Perhaps ​the ​weakest ​part ​of ​your ​work ​this ​quarter ​was ​your ​ability ​to ​synthesize ​the complex ​readings ​into ​a ​single, ​simple ​whole. ​This ​is ​the ​most ​important ​part ​of considering ​complex ​ideas ​- ​not ​simply ​taking ​them ​at ​face ​value, ​but ​assigning ​meaning to ​them ​and ​then ​integrating ​them ​into ​a ​larger ​philosophy ​or ​story. ​To ​synthesize complex ​ideas, ​you’ll ​need ​to ​utilize ​all ​of ​the ​methods ​you ​are ​learning ​in ​other ​classes. Externalize ​the ​data ​by ​using ​the ​theme/pattern ​process.”

I took this feedback and began the second quarter determined to focus on these three key aspect of my work: Approaching all my interactions with a curiosity to learn from those I am engaging in conversation and not seeking to share my opinions as often; Time-boxing my assignments and deadlines; and focusing more on using tools  like concept maps, affinity diagrams, and sketching that I am learning in my courses to better synthesize data into uncomplicated information.

Monday: Rapid Ideation and Creative Problem Solving. It is the first day of the second quarter and we are told to create three visual concept maps (Relationship & Informational Architecture current/ideal) around the concept of “Banking” and a mobile app of a bank.  My anxiety levels have come back up to their resting level right between my eyes after the week long break between quarters. I knew going into the quarter that I would be tested on my three areas of focus but  Austin Center for Design has a way of getting you out of your comfort zone before you even know where to find it.

I started to get to work right away. I knew I had a bunch of things I needed to do before the deadline and not very much time to get them done. I had recently done an interview with the owner of a local auto body shop and he gave me some good advice, “Eat the Frog. The frog is the one thing you have to do today that makes you sick thinking about doing it. Get it done and the rest of the day is gravy.” What was I dreading doing in this project? What did I want to get out of the way?”

As part of the assignment we were told to take screenshot of every possible screen of the app by scouring through it. I found that to be the most dull and time consuming so I did that first. My process was going great after that was through. I got the hard part (or, at that time what I thought was the hard part) out of the way and now I could focus on sensemaking.

The second task was creating an relationship matrix. Jon Kolko (our teacher/advisor for the course) mentioned that the relationship matrix was very time consuming, so we should try to focus on that.

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This was where I began to struggle within the process. Because I had spent the first four hours of my project on my screenshots I started creating my matrix when my other research assignments for my other two classes started up. I quickly saw my windows for working on the Banking assignment go from eight hours to one to two hours. It was difficult because knowing my focus was to improve my time management skills, I did not want to give half measures on processing the complex data.

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I finished the two maps with little time for much else, Both maps are highly thought out and are the result of many hours of diagramming and sketching I was unable to submit them by the deadline instructed.Untitled-3_Relationship Concept Map Informational Architecture Map

It was clear from this assignment that my time management skills have still much to be desired. However, after four days of non-stop sketching and sticky notes I felt, and still feel, great about the amount of work I put into the assignment. A big struggle I deal with is going straight to Adobe Illustrator or computer applications and shying away from sketching and putting pen to paper. I knew that my time management suffered but I focused heavily on staying out illustrator and going through the process of diagramming and sketching out my thoughts and process when making sense of all the data.

What I have learned through this assignment and what I will take ownership of going forward in my goal to become an autonomous Designer is that processing the complex information is ideally done through using techniques like quickly sketching ideas, going to the whiteboard, and making iterations after iterations. However, if I miss deadlines or fail to present complete work then all that work means very little in the scope of large goals, so I need to focus harder on moving on quickly from activities. Sometimes a portions may need another iteration or two but it is best to move to next part and if possible come back to make changes.