Design Thinking

Today will be a bit different to the last few articles as I want to discuss ethnography for the design thinker.

I was thinking of writing about reframing but I felt it would be repetitive to the inspiration stage. Why? Well, it was because reframing is about the discovery process to understand a problem and view it from different angles. However, I felt that even before that ethnography would provide the information needed to understand the possible people that are involved in the target market or community that the product would be involved in. Ethnography is the study of how people interact with a design, whether it's the technology, the objects or the space. 

So, how can we do this if we were in the process of designing a manga? Well, we could analyze the audience of other mangas within the genres you are thinking of writing. You can see what character types receive higher reactions or empathy, as well as the gender, age and interest of the audience. Bungo Stray Dogs for example is a supernatural detective story that is within the seinen category. Seinen is usually targeted towards "youth" specifically young men... however once it reached the market place it succeeded much more with the LGBTQ+ community and a female audience. Seinen is the more adult version of Shounen for anyone who may not know this information. With a knowledge of the manga/anime industry, I have found that One Piece which is a Shounen has captured more of the attention of the intended Seinen audience. Bungo Stray Dogs targets an older community as it makes use of dark themes and showcases mental health problems such as PTSD, Depression, Religious Trauma and many more. These themes were not suitable for the younger audience as they could be trigger or influential. The first ethnography would have been of the genre and the target category but once it reached the market the ethnography changed and through new studies, Asagiri Kafka can even better understand the growing community around his product. With a better understanding of the people that interact in his community, Bungo Stray Dogs can grow and become a better version of itself to target the audience's wants and needs. 

What do we learn from this? The better understanding and knowledge of the product's users and community, the better you can tackle the reframing and viewing of the different possible angles of the problems. So what do I suggest to you? do an initial ethnography to start understanding the possible people involved and the different angles... but follow it up with post-ethnography to continue seeing the evolution of the people and seeing if you reached the intended target market or if you actually got a different community to then continue innovating.

I hope that my blog has been interesting or helpful to you my dear readers. Did you learn anything new with me? 

Sincerely,

Clara

Here is the manga that I designed and developed with the help of my precious friend.

Hello again,

Guess what!? I'm going to finally tell you my dear knowledge seekers about the final category in the design process! Yes! You probably guessed it... if you are coming from the first few articles. If you are skipping ahead... in that case, might I suggest going back to the beginning of the process? It's all about the journey, not the destination... so don't skip ahead to the destination. Now that that has been said, I would like to congratulate all my readers who have been following my rambling throughout this process. Ok! I seem to be getting ahead of myself! Back to the point, today I will be discussing implementation with y'all. We learned already that inspiration starts the process off, followed by ideation, to finally lead to implementation. So, does anyone have any idea what implementation could mean in the design process?

No? Well... that might be a problem for us then... Was I supposed to explain it? I was hoping you would tell me... Haha! Just kidding!

Of course, I'm going to be the one explaining it! It is my blog after all. So, implementation is the moment we start applying the product to its intended use. At this phase, we are going to start thinking of what story the product is selling to the audience. Implementation is also when we are going to test the quality of the output of the product. Without good implementation, all the previous steps of the process will fail as it won't reach its target the way it was meant to. Was the product developed intertwined with the problem statement from the inspiration stage? Is what is being delivered what was promised? Is it telling a good story and appealing to the wants and needs that were identified? These are some of the few questions you should consider when entering the implementation stage.

Now I also mentioned a few times about storytelling, haven't I? Well, to sell a product it needs a good story! The story could be the process of solving the problem or it could be that you are telling a story that resonates with the target market. Let's take perfume as an example, would you just say it smells nice and it can be worn for 12 hours.... or... Would you say that, it smells of a tropical vacation for anyone looking to feel like they are relaxing in the sun, drinking a refreshing drink all day long? Or whatever smell the perfume may be. A hotel might show that their hotel will bring you comfort and warmth. The stories given to the product should meet the wants or needs of the target to resonate empathy with them. Now I feel I will bring disappointment if I don't bring Bungo Stray Dogs as an example. Well, this would apply to any manga, but labelling the genre is already a method of storytelling as we are telling the audience about the content within the product. The genre and the summary are what will usually be the first method of attracting the audience to the manga. However, some people may be drawn in by the aesthetic of the art style or edits made about the product. For Bungo Stray Dogs, readers may have been attracted through a character they were attracted to (usually Dazai), they may love literature, maybe they related to one of the characters and found a sense of comfort, or they could love supernatural detective stories... amongst a wide variety.

It's crucial to remember that implementation is important to the success of any innovation and product. Don't cut any corners in the process.

Remember that the design process is a cycle that loops throughout itself. It's important to embrace every failure and to let the creativity flow with each idea whether absurd or sane.

Sincerely,

Clara

P.S. The picture is mine, please don't use it without permission.

We meet again! I see this time you've come to see what I have to show about ideation in the design process... or is it to see if I mention Bungo Stray Dogs again? Well, oops! I guess I did just mention it, didn't I hahaha. If we remember from the last article, the first step is inspiration which is to understand, observe and then synthesize our battle plan going into ideation. So... I guess that does bring us to ideation, doesn't it? Let's not get too tangled up in the loopy loop of the design process, and dive right in!

In simple terms, the process of ideation is prototyping and testing. With the action plan set, the next step is to start brainstorming. Now I'm sure you've had to brainstorm before, well, you can consider it to be the same here in the design process. The brainstorming step is to develop the ideas for the action plan to prototype. In a manga, this could be done by bouncing ideas off our team members or friends or even going to scout out locations to see what could be used in the prototype. It could be around creating a vision board with all the different thoughts and ideas that come to mind and seeing how they could connect together. The point is that before jumping into the deep end of prototyping, we need to brainstorm what the prototype could be.

So once we've brainstormed the prototype using the information we interpreted from our inspiration stage... now you can jump into the deep end~ Woohoo! The important thing to remember in the first stages of prototyping is that failure is expected and accepted! It's through the process of failing, reviewing, returning to the bases and restarting the prototyping process that we can fully innovate a product. When prototyping and testing, it's also important to consider if the story that you are trying to tell through the product is successfully being transmitted. However, we will look more into storytelling in the next article as I wouldn't want to spoil too much of the fun of implementation.

Another point that is important to consider when reaching the ideation stage is that this is the creative stage! What does that mean? Well, it's rather crucial that in this stage everyone involved joins with an open mind and can focus on solving the problem in a judgment-free environment. So... How did I go about prototyping my manga while I was working on it? I would draw out the exact dimension of the panel I would be working on and then within that I would do rough drafts of the ideas I have and then ask for feedback on which fit the panel sequence best. However! I didn't just stop there. When drawing in the trial panel that got chosen, I would test the shading and would get more feedback on if anything was amiss as 2 or 3 pairs of eyes could notice more than just the artist's.

Prototyping and testing are the foundations of creating the product that you envision! Constant prototyping leads to fruitful results and the path to innovation. But, just because we managed to get through ideation, doesn't mean we are at the end of the design thinking process! We still have implementation! I understand, however, that we can all use a little break before we get into this final category. My suggestion is a nice nap and maybe some nice snack to get the system going.

Sincerely,

Clara

In the design process, there are 9 steps to be aware of, that fall under 3 categories. The 3 categories are inspiration, ideation, and implementation. I had previously mentioned these in my very first article. As seen in the image there are 9 steps and they loop back to each other so so would be our first step in the process. Well, it would be understanding and framing the problem that we need to solve with our design, Who are we targeting? What should be its function? What are the needs and wants involving the product we are trying to innovate?

To do this it's important to gather data about the target market, the main people that will interact with the product and to understand the data collected. This would be the observation step in the process. However, with every trial, we will go back to observe to see what may need fixing or be missing. In my experience drawing manga, I would test panels and then get feedback before going back and observing to see how I could better apply the feedback. I would ask my friend for whom I was drawing the manga if the text should be added or if it should be left to the imagination of the audience. Observation is collecting data from whom we are creating our product, so it's important to allow go back to them.

However, we must remember that observation is not the final step in inspiration! We still need to synthesize and interpret the observations so that we can see what actions we need to take once we reach the stage of ideation. This will be our action plan! So! this means that with every prototype we cycle back to observation and understanding to then create our action plan again to then be able to prototype again.  So let's take Bungo Stray Dogs as our example again or to be honest it could truly be any book or manga. Well, from a previous article, we learned about how Asagiri Kafka shows that his target are the people who are bad at living... The ones that Dazai talks about in the story... The ones that are lost. So how can he effectively target us? Well, he would need to first understand us! What do we need? How can he help us? He understood that he needed to create characters that we could see ourselves in... that we could relate to and it would bring comfort. He also understood that he needed to create a world of greys and that his target audience would want something more than just the real world. He understood and then he observed and synthesized! I would like to mention there is probably a lot more data that Asagiri gathered about his target audience than what was mentioned. 

I hope that this article helps my dear readers understand what inspiration in the design process is about. In the next article to come, I will explain ideation in the design thinking process. I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

Clara

Disclaimer: Kelley, Tom, 2006 The Ten Faces of Innovation

Welcome again!

Oof... We made it this far, we've finally reached our last category of faces... the building personas. I'm going to be honest, I really didn't expect how long this article would start to be. I can proudly state that you have finally reached the last article in the journey to acquiring the necessary knowledge on the 10 faces of design thinking. In the last two articles, we discovered the learning and organizing personas and let me tell you a little secret... I did bring up Bungo Stray Dogs again...

 

The first in our new category is the experience architect. These are the people that pull in the audience by providing them with an experience. I feel it's been too long since Bungo Stray Dogs was mentioned in this article so here is the perfect opportunity for me to bring it back as an example. OMG! How can I possibly bring it back again to Bungo Stray Dogs... well it's creating a full experience for the target audience. Well, an experience can be about engaging the senses and it can also be about engaging the mind. Bungo Stray Dogs achieves this by drawing in the audience with more than the beautiful faces of beloved authors. Asagiri Kafka creates puzzles through symbolism that gets his audience thinking and creates an empathetic connection by showing real trauma and mental health issues. He creates an experience in the manga and he also creates a community that wishes to understand it even more. It creates an interconnected experience with the characters and the others in the community. Other experience architects use the senses, tactile sensations, making use of sound, and looking for the opportunity to add in taste or smell.

Following we have the set designer, they are the people who set the stage that allows the team to increase productivity, interactions and a more relaxed collaboration. They spice up the environment that the team is working in. In this case, I will ask you a question... the environment around you, does it play a role in how motivated you feel? In my workspace, I like to put up the artwork I have completed, I like having an aesthetic bookshelf with my book collection, I consider the colours and how they make me feel... well this is what the set designer is doing for their team. They are taking a dull environment and upgrading it to further the progress of the design thinking process.

I'll keep this one short, the caregiver is the one who will receive a customer's needs and go above just providing the bare minimum of service to meet those needs. As Tom Kelley puts it, why wouldn't we want someone to be our personal trainer? The caregiver face makes their audience feel like they are the most important person in the world to them.

My god! We are finally at the last face... took us so much time to get here... I was beginning to think this article would go on forever. So let's do a short dive into what the storyteller does in the design thinking process. They are the people who make use of narrative to create internal morale and external awareness by communicating human values or specific cultural traits. The storyteller draws in his audience and makes a story around the product that will entice the audience's needs and wants. The best stories hold a ring of authenticity and an underlying truth, so to be the best storyteller strive to achieve the perfect balance within your narrative.

So to conclude, I would like to emphasize that the 10 faces of design thinking are not personality traits but tools that design thinkers can make use of to achieve innovation and reach their targets. Anybody can make use of these different personas and they don't only need to fit into one category. I hope that reading this article has explained the different faces that can be found in design thinking and how some of them can be found in the manga process. WooHoo! You've achieved the quest! Feel free to take a much-deserved nap and rest!

*Kinship: A person who kins may feel closely related to a character involuntarily, or they may choose to kin characters.

*Mangaka: Japanese word for a manga writer/artist.

Sincerely,

Clara

Disclaimer: Kelley, Tom, 2006 The Ten Faces of Innovation

Oh! Are you back to join us in the next part of this quest or have you recently found your way here? We gather here again to quest through the next part of the 10 faces of design thinking. In the previous article on the quest for knowledge, we learned about the learning personas.

Let's move on before this ends in a rant... Where were we again hmmm... Ah right! The organizing personas! Let's jump right in with the hurdler. The hurdler is a design thinker who has the awareness that the path to innovation will be like an obstacle course or a labyrinth that they will need to overcome to get to the final goal. They also know that some problems don't need to be faced head-on but can have a sly way to manoeuvre through the obstacle course. I feel that this would apply to almost any mangaka* alive and dead. Mangakas will go through many roadblocks to achieve even one successful product. Tom Kelley describes them as "Hurdlers can be savvy risk takers, and are often the most street-smart members of your team. Breaking rules comes naturally, and they know how to cleverly work outside the system. Give them a constraint, a tight deadline, a small budget, and they’re likely to excel." Personally, I would say the real hurdlers are you readers who have managed to reach this point in my article about design thinking personas and mangas. Just kidding! Shall we move on to our next face?

The collaborator, I am not sure if you recall from my previous articles but one of the main profiles for a design thinker is the collaborate. A collaborator is someone who brings a team together and gets everyone to work together to bring about innovation. I could bring in Bungo Stray Dogs and how Asagiri Kafka, even though he is an amazing artist chose to collaborate with Harakuwa Sango to be able to create the best product they could offer together... however, for any manga there is a team that works in the creation of the final product. Each panel can be worked on by a team of young future mangakas who are trying to learn how to design and create the best and most innovative story. With them are the editors and the publishers and how they work hard to make sure everything gets done on time and fits the storyline of the product and service they are selling their audience. The collaborator is one of the most important faces in the world of manga as they are usually someone who may be more of an honorary team member who is there to keep the team functioning and healthy. "The Collaborator is that rare person who truly values the team over the individual and project accomplishments beyond individual achievements." 

Following this we have the last but definitely not least of the organizing personas, the director. This face is the person who gathers their team and gets them motivated and thinking creatively to produce the best product. They are there to guide and bring out the best in each of their team members. In the world of manga, I would say that the manager and editor of the team would fit this role in the design thinking process of creating a successful product. Why do I say it's the manager/editor and not the author is simple, the manager needs to keep the author motivated and help guide them so that they are able to continue designing and hitting the deadlines to provide their audience with the most emotional interaction with the manga. Now if we were talking about the design thinking of the drawing process or the storyline then it would be the mangaka as they would be the one providing for their team. Though that may vary from team to team as in my own personal experience I would say the director of my process would be my best friend. He is a writer and it's through him I get new ideas and motivation as he provides the feedback I need to reconsider each prototype to achieve a manga that I am satisfied with.

Well, this adventure may have been shorter than the last, but we still haven't unlocked the achievement of design thinking knowledge! To get this achievement we must move forward to the final part of our quest! The Building Personas! I'm also sure I have you curious if I will bring up Bungo Stray Dogs up again~ Well only one way to know... Onwards with our quest.

*Kinship: A person who kins may feel closely related to a character involuntarily, or they may choose to kin characters.

*Mangaka: Japanese word for a manga writer/artist.

Sincerely,

Clara