Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DD+D 2012 News

DD+D will be coordinating the Chicago Service Jam again this year as part of the Global Service Jam. The Jam will be Friday , February 24th. - Sunday February 26th.2012. Please contact us if you're interested in volunteering, sponsoring or participating.

DD+D will be launching our new DDplusD site soon please stay tuned!

DD+D is working with others to start the Chicago chapter of the Service Design Network.

And, our client partners, so far, next year range from Universities to Quick Service Restaurants.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

DD+D's Services

DD+D: a theatre-based
design consulting firm

DD+D leverages theatre techniques and acting methodology to help designers empathize with users and produce better results for their clients, as well as to communicate and collaborate around design solutions. Theatre is a fun, informative, and effective way to work out ideas, visualize concepts, and communicate solutions. It allows teams to empathize, by stepping into the shoes of users. It can reveal how people interact with services, products, and each other on a physical, emotional and intuitive level.

How can we help?
DD+D offers theatre-based workshops customized for each stage of the design process and tuned to the specific needs of designers, design teams and their clients.

1. Self
Supporting the exploration of the designer’s beliefs
- Design Empathy

2. Others
Helping to engage with and communicate design research.
- Personas

3. Discover
Supporting testing and evaluating of new ideas.
- Bodystorming / Design Improv

4. Develop
Supporting testing of existing concepts and services.
- Performance Testing
- Making Products Considerate

1. Self
Workshop: Design Empathy
The design process starts with the designer. The Design Empathy workshop helps designers acknowledge their biases and challenge their assumptions. Understanding these potential blocks will help you to connect with your customers, team members and stakeholders. Learn how actors, the world's greatest empaths, use acting methodology to understand Self before stepping into the shoes of Others.

“The workshop illuminated a critical part of the design process-the idea of empathy, inclusion, and connection. These concepts are crucial and complex and are often unarticulated. Today's session successfully got us thinking about connection and social dynamics in the way we work in our studio and in communities." Studio Leader, Design for America

2. Others
Workshop: Personas

Reconnect research to personas. We take two-dimensional representations of customers and bring them to life. Participants learn to use acting techniques to connect to the hidden needs, motivations, and goals of users. Make data memorable.

“I tend to be skeptical about ‘exercises’ like this, but I think it’s a great way to get a team reconnected with personas they've been using over time. Also a great way to onboard new team members to existing personas. And for promoting adoption to other teams within an organization." Designer, UXMasterclass Conference

3. Discovery
Workshop: Bodystorming/ Design Improv

This session uses a method of problem identification and solving to translate ideas and opportunities into physical experiences explored through improvisation and role-play. Bodystorming uses a design brief, props and simple costumes to give a sense of place. The process is designed to uncover how relationships between people, locations, and things affect ideas in ways that brainstorming alone cannot.
Rapid prototyping at its best!

“I was a participant in Bodystorming a few weeks ago, and I found it to be the ‘best’ medium for developing a ‘design’ concept within a very short period of time. It is an invaluable tool for educators as well as multi-level teams of ‘any’ discipline, to offer lessons in team building and collaboration. Without having any preconceived ideas of what we wanted to achieve, my team developed a conceptual design for an eye-care kiosk within ‘16 minutes’ - while standing.”Designer, Sears UX

4. Develop
Workshop: Performance Testing

This session is similar to a theatre rehearsal. Using an existing scenario this session tests how users interact with low and high fidelity products or services. Designers act out scenes based on user’s problems identified during the research phase to step into the shoes of the user in the context of a particular touch point or day-in-the-life. Participants learn how to use their embodied insights to create rich contextual scenarios.

"Forcing us to step into the simulation of our project showed some of inefficiencies in our designs." Designer, Design for America

Making Products Considerate

This workshop encourages designers to think differently about the products they design. Designers play the role of the product as they interact with users to understand what users want from an experience with a product. Participants explore creating products that are deferential, forthcoming, and perceptive. Learn to design good product behavior.

“It gave the team time to consider situations that may come up. Usually these situations are considered after the fact= design rework. The session forces us to not just walk through the steps as product developers but instead think of products as people with their own expectations and emotions. “
Product designer, global quick service restaurant

Who We Are:
DD+D Team Members, led by Byron Stewart, bring expertise in: UX, interaction, product, and service design, ergonomics, HCI, and business. Theatre, improv, storytelling, facilitating, directing, acting.

Byron Stewart Design Lead, DD+D
is an actor, director, consultant, facilitator, and presenter, and is owner of Dramatic Diversity/DD+D. For the past ten years, Dramatic Diversity has provided theatre-based corporate training and diversity & inclusion consultation to clients including BP/Amoco, Hewitt & Associates, Motorola, Northern Trust Bank, Brookfield Zoo, Ohio State University, and PepsiCo. Byron has also applied theatre-based techniques to the design field facilitating persona/scenario, performance testing, and design empathy workshops for Critical Mass, RTC, IIT’s Institute of Design, DePaul University, Columbia College and for Northwestern University’s Design for America Fellows. Byron has facilitated bodystorming sessions for Sears and Walgreens, and is a local leader and presenter for Chicago’s Interaction Design Association. Byron was service design consultant on the development and launch of a new diabetes class for University of Chicago and coordinator of the Chicago Service Jam. Articles on Byron’s workshops have been featured in the UXmatters and Experience Matters online magazines. He received his BFA degree from Howard University.

Design Research Conference “Design Improv” workshop, IIT/Institute of Design, Chicago, IL. Oct. 2011

Service Design Network’s Global Conf. “McDonald’s + Service Experience + Jam' Palace Hotel, San Francisco, CA. Oct. 2011

UXMasterclass Conference, “Using Theatre Techniques to Write Effective Personas” Field Museum Chicago, IL. Sept. 2011

DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education, with Millennia Consulting, “Bodystorming: Improv + Inclusion + Innovation” DePaul University, June, 2011

Contact us:
Byron Stewart, DD+D (773) 271 - 6054

Please click here for a complete downloadable version of our brochure !

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Design Research Conference + Design Improv

Byron and Raph presented, "Design Improv", a four hour interactive workshop for IIT/Institute of Design's Design Research Conference.

The Conference:
For nine years running, DRC has brought together leading thinkers, exceptional practitioners, and seasoned executives. This year’s conference will set the spotlight on exciting changes driven by emerging technologies and the new position of design research within the business world. Please join us for two days of cutting-edge ideas, fresh work, and new business connections.

The Workshop:
Design Improv with Raphael D’Amico and Byron Stewart

As design researchers we strive for empathy with our users but often find it difficult to fully close the gap. What if we could step into their shoes? Design Improv brings research to life by drawing on the unique techniques that actors and improvisers use to create believable characters and scenes. Workshop participants will learn how this approach can help prototype, build empathy, and reveal how people interact with products, services, and each other. Come ready to play!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Service Design Network Conference + DD+D

DD+D will be presenting with new client partner, McDonald's at this year's Service Design Network Conference Oct. 20-21 in San Fransisco.

Service Design Global Conference

The 4th annual Service Design Conference crosses the Atlantic this year to San Francisco where we will meet to develop and strengthen the knowledge and expertise in the business, science and practice of the innovation and improvement of services. This global gathering will be an invaluable opportunity to meet your peers, expand your network and hear from those operating at the very heart of service design.

Right from our first conference in Amsterdam in 2008; new thinking has been debated, methods shared, great ideas and strategies developed and stories have been told. Invaluable connections have been forged between individuals, groups and organizations to help design and build internal capacity and teams, create new management capabilities, all ultimately generating value for service organizations and users alike.

So if the design and provision of services is on your agenda; whether you’re a practitioner, whether you’re in the business of managing and delivering services or you’re if studying, this conference is for you.

This year’s theme of the conference:
At this year’s conference we’ll be exploring what happens when service design meets business. We’ll look at how, where and when our two broad professions work together to generate value, what we can learn from each other and ask what the future of this relationship might be. The theme is:

“From sketchbook to spreadsheet”
We’re particularly interested in understanding the impact that service design is now making to organisations’ bottom lines and in hearing where the compelling stories of designing business strategies, monetising service propositions and cultural change are.

We will also be maintaining our focus on the practice and business of service design itself; new tools and methods yes, but also how to buy and sell service design, and what the design community can learn from business and vice-versa.

DD+D's Byron Stewart,and McDonald's Jeff Pollard will present:

McDonald's+Service Experience+Jam

McDonald’s Chief Restaurant Officer has a favorite saying, “It’s not real until it’s real in the restaurant.” The path to making service experience real at McDonald’s has had many twists and turns and is still in its early days as a formal practice. We’re excited to share how service culture has been cultivated over the years at McDonald’s and how we’ve employed tools from the disciplines of theater and design and are collaborating with innovators in the service design community to have a positive impact on our business. And it wouldn’t be “real” if we didn’t have an embodied employee persona performance thrown in for good measure!

I attended Adam Lawrence's workshop at the conference.
Adam is the owner of Work Play Experience in Germany.

And also works in the area of theatre + design.
Here is a clip from the workshop.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DD+D Presents at UXMasterclass Conference '11

DD+D will give a talk at UXMasterclass Conference 2011 from miaoqi Zhu on Vimeo.

Byron presented at this year's UXMaterclass Conference on Friday, September 16 at the Field Museum. Please find above and below a description of the session and feedback from participants.

Using Theater Techniques to Write Effective Personas

Workshop Description:

Designers don’t always have the luxury of getting to talk with users. In fact, sometimes designers only rely on personas when developing ideas. But if personas are to be useful, then designers must step into the shoes of users to gain the insight and empathy needed to create engaging experiences. Byron’s workshop exhibits acting methodology to draw this connection between user research data, user personas, and design.

He will enthusiastically demonstrate how designers benefit from going back to the theatrical traditions to enhance their character and story development skills. Byron will also increase the understanding and application of theater techniques that aid in the development of more life-like personas than those that merely exist on paper. Leading the Dramatic Diversity team, Byron takes a two-dimensional representation of a customer and brings it to life, eliminating user frustration and increasing ease, enjoyment and engagement in all design elements.

Participant Feedback:

"I tend to be skeptical about "exercises" like this, but I think done well , it could be a great way to get a team reconnected with personas they've been using over time. Also a great way to onboard new team members to existing personas. And for promoting adoption to other teams within an organization."

"Very engaging presenter. Got me thinking about how I could potentially apply this approach within my team. Would recommend to my company where appropriate."

"It taught me to go deeper with personas to find the emotional layer."

"Byron enthusiastically presented the material and interacted with the audience suggestions."

"The speaker brought real examples to demonstrate the usefulness of The Method."

"Thought it was great - just the right level of detail for the time limit and the audience. And it was great to engage the audience instead of just talk!"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Design Empathy and Performance Testing with DFA'11

DD+D had the pleasure of returning to Northwestern University's Design for America this summer. Byron conducted three interactive theater-based workshops with the design teams and leadership.
Two Design Empathy workshops (one for DFA Leadership) and another titled Performance Testing. Our Design Empathy contribution has been added to the DFA Starter Kit Manual.

Here are brief overviews of the sessions and feedback from participants.

Design Empathy - diversity and inclusion training for designers

“Social design education helps develop character, empathy, cultural awareness and flexibility.”
Mariana Amatullo VP of Designmatters Social Design Art Center College of Design

One of the goals of DFA Team Captains is to create an environment that values empathy and inclusion and leverages them to promote effective team communication and community collaborations.

Here are 3 key areas of focus and sample exercises to use with your teams to get you started. Remember, it is a Journey.

DFA Team Captains can help team members to:

Connect their own interest and objectives with project issues and partner organizations, helping members to discover and develop their individual voices as socially responsible designers. (Self)

Create interdisciplinary and culturally diverse teams to bring new perspectives to a problem: creating an environment that allows members to work collaboratively with different disciplines, knowledge bases and points of view is critical. Strive to include team members that reflect the diversity of the community you will be working in. (Teams)

Explore the cultural, social, political, and economic factors and assumptions that will inform their working collaborations and provide members with awareness of and skills in cultural diversity and the value of inclusion. (Community)

Performance Testing
(adapted from Design Improv, Nathan Waterhouse)
Acting + Evaluating:

Improv can be a fun informative way to work out ideas, visualize concepts, and communicate solutions. It allows teams to empathize, by stepping into the shoes of users. It can reveal how people interact with services, products, and each other on a physical, emotional and intuitive level.

Here are 3 stages of the design process where performance/theater can be useful in the development of interactive systems:

  • Supporting the exploration of new ideas.
  • Helping to communicate concepts.
  • Supporting testing of ideas.
Here is an example of how to use theater/improvisation with your teams.

Performance Testing
Flow: Using an existing scenario test how users interact with products or services. Set the stage/location, decide where everything should be. Assign roles and relationships based on personas and research. If you are testing a scenario, take it in slices. As soon as it starts to break down, the audience must call bug! Iterate the scene, changing the variables as you do. Change relationships the Who, Where, and Why.

Suggestions: Use this with potential users to test the experience of a device or service. Assess and record findings. Performance Testing can be done on the road ,or in the studio. Film the process/performance to capture and evaluate.

Here is some of the feedback we received:

Design Empathy Workshop:
" The workshop illuminated a critical part of the DFA experience and process-the idea of empathy, inclusion, and connection. These concepts are crucial and complex and are often unarticulated. Today's session successfully got us thinking about connection and social dynamics in the way we work in our studio on campus and in communities."

"The exercises were great! I can't wait to do the activities I learned today with fellow DfA members this fall."

"The activities we did today will help our studio respectfully and effectively seek out resources in our community to make projects that solve real human issues

Performance Testing Workshop:
"The workshop helped us visualize the scenarios from the perspective of the potential users and stakeholders."

"Forcing us to step into the simulation of our project showed some of inefficiencies in our designs."

"The persona exercise helped us delve into the spoken and unspoken mindset of our users: their needs,motives and their environments. It was easier to pull back the layers of certain stakeholders. Could more easily get to the core of what they were saying...what they mean."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Personas In the 3rd Person and IxDA

DD+D posted the following question on the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) site.
It has had over 60 replies and 1,918 views.

Here is the question, followed by a link to all the interesting responses.

First-person personas are more engaging, and by mimicking tone patterns, grammar usage and other linguistic characteristics that may be possessed by the persona would result in the ability to communicate more with less writing.

Rarely have I come across a persona written from the first-person perspective. I’m wondering if there are reasons for this discrepancy, or is it strictly due to design history/protocol?

Replies here -

Friday, June 17, 2011

Campbell Soup spotlights DD+D in blog

DD+D's Project Bodystorming was featured in Campbell Soup Companies Diversity and Inclusion blog Inclusion to Innovation.

Inclusion to Innovation -a way of being in the world-is a community leveraging individual differences and commonalities for business innovation.

Please find the link here http://www.inclusiontoinnovation.com/2011/06/bodystorming-improv-inclusion.html

Originally posted by Kevin Carter -Director, Diversity & Inclusion, the Campbell Soup Company and Chairperson, the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) Diversity Standards Taskforce Diversity Metrics Workgroup.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bodystorming:Improv+Incusion+Innovation at DePaul University

Byron will presenting, Bodystorming: Improv + Inclusion + Innovation for...

DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education in collaboration with Millennia Consulting presents

Catalysts for Innovation

A one-day symposium addressing facilitation innovation in teamwork, technology & creativity

June 10, 2011

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. -Albert Einstein

Around the world we are faced with many new issues that demand a different way of thinking. Our political paradigm is in a stage of disruption. Our economy is adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Technology is providing new avenues for social connections. Society yearns for a way to find wholeness within its diversity.

One key to the future is to advance our level of innovation in all arenas—business solutions, educational approaches, technology advances, societal issues, and political processes. In the past, we waited for the single imaginative leader to offer breakthroughs in our thinking.

Today, we look to the team. There is great power in the group if we can unleash and harness the creativity that resides within in it. Therefore, one key leadership skill to solving today’s problems is facilitation: the means to release the latent power and potential of every individual in the group and to capture the collective wisdom to solve the issues that face us.

Join and network with experienced group process facilitators in a one-day Symposium hosted by DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education. Learn new approaches that will help you increase your capacity to serve as a catalyst for innovation with your teams, organizations and communities.

Millennia Consulting, the organizing sponsor, invites you to participate in the upcoming DePaul University Continuing and Professional Education one-day Facilitation Symposium, June 10, 2011.

Who Should Attend
This symposium is designed for facilitators, team leaders,
consultants, leaders, project managers and anyone that wants
to learn more about group facilitation.

How You Will Benefit
• Learn new facilitation approaches
• Increase your capacity as a facilitator
• Be a catalyst for innovation
• Improve your group’s creativity
• Advance innovation within your team, organization
and community

Program Details
Friday, June 10, 2011
8:15 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Cost: $115 (early bird price until May 10)

Contact Information
Janie Rollinson
(312) 362-5792

Symposium Sessions:
• Bodystorming: Improv + Inclusion + Innovation
• Decision Cost Analysis: An Innovative Way to Calculate the
Benefit of Facilitation
• Exploring Mental Models for Breakthrough Collaboration
• Facilitating Change and Innovation—How to Enable Innovation
• Facilitating Knowledge Sharing in Organizations
• Focused Conversation—A Framework for Collaborative Innovation
• From Workplace to Playspace: Facilitating the Mindset Shift
for Innovation and High Engagement
• Innovating Facilitation with Multiple Intelligences
• Innovative Virtual Innovation Techniques Using Inexpensive
Collaboration 2.0 Tools
• Seeing & Doing: Enabling and Engaging Your Groups with
Visual & Kinesthetic Tools
• The Vincentian Question (What Must Be Done?) as Catalyst
for Change
• Using Facilitation to get Unstuck to Inspire Innovation

Workshop Description:Bodystorming: Improv + Inclusion + Innovation.

Bodystorming is a method of problem identification and solving in which teams translate ideas and opportunities into physical experiences which they explore through improvisation and role-play. Bodystorming uses a design brief, props and simple costumes to give a sense of place. The process is designed to uncover how the relationships between people, locations, and things affect ideas in ways that brainstorming alone cannot. It enables empathy and rapid iteration of ideas and relationships through a dynamic process of acting and evaluating. The process reveals how people interact with services, products, and each other on a physical, emotional and intuitive level. Participants will learn how facilitating a bodystorming session can foster an inclusive, innovative environment and bring value to an organization.

To register and for more info:

DePaul registration site;

Millenna Consulting;

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism?

Does our desire to help do more harm than good?

Fast Company July 10th. 2010

In prep for leading a session titled "Getting out of Your Comfort Zone" for Design For America's summer session I found this useful and informative.

Emily Pilloton's Design Revolution Road Show, the physical embodiment of her non-profit Project H Design rolled into New York a few weeks ago stopping at Metropolis, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and ICFF. Yes, Project H is hot in U.S. and European design circles, almost as sizzling as IDEO, the Acumen Fund, and One Laptop Per Child.
And why not? Emily’s Project H is a pure play in using design to do good. It doesn’t get better than this mission statement:

Project H Design connects the power of design to the people who need it most, and the places where it can make a real and lasting difference. We are a team of designers, architects, and builders engaging locally through partnerships with social service organizations, communities, and schools to improve the quality of life for the socially overlooked. Our five-tenet design process (There is no design without action; We design WITH, not FOR; We document, share and measure; We start locally and scale globally, We design systems, not stuff) results in simple and effective design solutions for those without access to creative capital. Our scalable long-term initiatives focus on improving environments, services, products, and experiences for youth and K-12 education institutions in the U.S. through systems-level design thinking and deep community engagements. WE BELIEVE DESIGN CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.

So do I. But whose design? Which solutions? What problems?

One of Project H's initiatives was to redesign the Hippo Roller, a water transportation device.

Let me explain. The last time I saw Emily was in Singapore in the fall at the ICSID World Design Congress where she was receiving a roaring applause from the European and American designers on stage after giving a speech about Project H. I loved that speech because it linked the power of design to the obligation to do good. In a world awash in consumption, with many designers complicit in designing that consumption, Emily’s message was right on.

But not to the mostly Asian designer audience. Of course there was polite applause but, to my surprise, there was also a lot of loud grumbling against Emily along the lines of "What makes her think she can just come in and solve our problems?” This was a challenge of presumption that just stopped me cold--and sent me back to my Peace Corps days when I heard a lot about Western cultural imperialism from my Filipino friends. Are designers helping the "Little Brown Brothers?" Are designers the new anthropologists or missionaries, come to poke into village life, "understand" it and make it better--their "modern" way?

Naw. I dismissed the rumblings in the audience against Emily and Project H as insignificant. After all, what were those Asian designers doing for their own poor people in villages and towns in India, the Philippines, and China?

Then, some months later at Parsons School for Design, the same thing happened. I went to a talk by IDIOM Design, one of India’s top design consultancies.

Might Indian, Brazilian and African designers have important design lessons to teach Western designers?

At the end of a great presentation, a 20-something woman from the Acumen Fund rushed to the front and said in the proudest, most optimistic, breathless way that Acumen was teaming up with IDEO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to design better ways of delivering safe drinking water to Indian villagers. She said this to the Indian businessman Kishoreji Biyani, who is the key investor in IDIOM, and to my stunned surprise--and hers--he groused that there was a better, Indian way of solving the problem. She didn't know what to say. And I didn't either.

I know the Acumen and IDEO people and they, like Emily, are the very best. I know the IDIOM folks and they, too, are the very best. And I have met Mr. Biyani in India and he is an amazing businessman. But he, too, like many in the Asian audience in Singapore, took offense at Western design intervention in his country.

So what’s going on? Did what I see in these two occasions represent something wider and deeper? Is the new humanitarian design coming out of the U.S. and Europe being perceived through post-colonial eyes as colonialism? Are the American and European designers presuming too much in their attempt to do good?

As I pondered this, I remembered the contretemps over One Laptop Per Child, an incredibly ambitious project sponsored by all the good guys--the MIT Media Lab, Pentagram, Continuum, fuseproject.

The OLPC XO-3, a touchscreen pad device, is planned to debut in 2012

Again, I know most of the players and they are good souls. The laptop itself is wonderful, with a beautiful shape and unique interface. Yet, OLPC failed in its initial plan to drop millions of inexpensive computers into villages, to hook kids directly to the Web and, in effect, get them to educate themselves. The Indian establishment locked OLPC out precisely because it perceived the effort as inappropriate technological colonialism that cut out those responsible for education in the country—policymakers, teachers, curriculum builders, parents. OLPC never got into China either. Or most of the large nations it had originally targeted.

So where are we with humanitarian design? I know almost all of my Gen Y students want to do it because their value system is into doing good globally. Young designers in consultancies and corporations want to do humanitarian design for the same reason.

But should we take a moment now that the movement is gathering speed to ask whether or not American and European designers are collaborating with the right partners, learning from the best local people, and being as sensitive as they might to the colonial legacies of the countries they want to do good in. Do designers need to better see themselves through the eyes of the local professional and business classes who believe their countries are rising as the U.S. and Europe fall and wonder who, in the end, has the right answers? Might Indian, Brazilian and African designers have important design lessons to teach Western designers?

And finally, one last question: why are we only doing humanitarian design in Asia and Africa and not Native American reservations or rural areas, where standards of education, water and health match the very worst overseas?

Bruce Nussbaum blogs, tweets and writes on innovation, design thinking and creativity. The former assistant managing editor for Business Week is a Professor of Innovation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Columbia College Project- Scenarios+Theatre

The Columbia College Project – using theatre/improve to visualize, and empathize with users prior to scenario development
Byron Stewart, Raphael D’Amico, Kevin Henry

Theatre and improvisation techniques have been used at various stages of the design process with much success (Sato and Salvador 1999) (Howard and Carroll 2002). Research has shown that theatre and improv help to create better, more evocative models of the world, which leads to a better foundation for idea generation. Instead of just coldly describing, designers can step into the shoes of – to embody – the user. Many idea generation techniques suffer from two problems: they aren’t connected to research; the ideas are vague and not concrete enough to build off/evaluate. Using theatre/improv techniques can address these two issues. Ideas become more connected to research because designers spend time embodying the user before they begin idea generation, which grounds them in the user’s reality. This is more fun and perhaps more natural than more structured techniques. For example, imagine making a grid where each row is a persona and each column is an ‘insight’ from research, and grinding out ideas for each interaction. You end up with pretty huge matrices when you do that, which can suck the energy out of the room. Instead of being the drudgery of filling out matrices, the process becomes the joy of discovery. Ideas become more concrete because you are forced to act them out. Prototyping doesn’t get quicker and cheaper than that. In design, there is a core cycle of generate ideas> evaluate ideas> generate more ideas etc...

Acting out makes that cycle richer because ideas go from abstract to more concrete.

DD+D’s goal for the Columbia College Project was to bring theatre/improv techniques to a Digital Presentation class of 11 second and third year product design students. We wanted to show that using theatre/improv techniques in the development of scenarios would help students empathize with and visualize potential users. That it would help to bring their research to life and allow the students to step into the shoes of key stakeholders they were designing for. Building on the past experiences of Howard and Carroll and others, we developed a theatre-based curriculum for a four hour pilot class.

The students were given a fictional design brief. Their assignment was to produce a final video presentation based on the needs of their fictional client.

The students were to use the theatre-based class as a problem finding session rather than a problem solving session. Students were to work collaboratively to define parameters, brainstorm, act out, develop specific user profiles, situations or scenarios, and work through potential problems as a discovery process. The first round of the assigned scenarios would be developed out of this process and then progressively refined over the remainder of the semester. Our focus would be on the students creating a very detailed and compelling (but short – 3-5 minute) video/scenario by the end of the semester that might encompass the problem and solution or focus only on the solution(s). DD+D was commissioned to facilitate one four-hour class for this project However, DD+D and its partner would attend and participate in the majority of classes during the project.

DD+D partnered with a Master of Design student from the Institute of Design IIT (ID/IIT) to create the curriculum for the class and to co-facilitate the class with DD+D and the class instructor. DD+D has a history of applying theatre in various disciples including design. DD+D wanted to bring in a partner with a background primarily in design and with a passion for theatre to combine both sets of knowledge to create the curriculum for this class. We wanted to show students that these techniques work and that designers have used them successfully.

This paper reviews the curriculum and outcomes of the class project.

The student’s design brief stated:
The age at which younger users acquire their first mobile devices continues to drop for a variety of reasons- many of which are connected. Tweens are asking for devices sooner because they see their older siblings and parents using them all the time. Parents also increasingly see advantages to having their children be ‘connected’ especially in urban environments. Parents see the technology as a kind of introduction- a rite of passage. They personally want to introduce it to their children as a learning and trust building opportunity while seeing the direct benefits for helping them navigate complex urban lives. The reality is that some tweens will be ready and many will not be, resulting in lost phones, high bills, and irresponsibility.

The Schaumburg-based company Motorola is interested in exploring this emerging market niche to develop use-scenarios that would help steer them in the right direction should they decide to develop a possible ‘tween’ phone. The company is interested in the perspective of all the potential stakeholders (child, parent, teacher, care provider) and finds it challenging to envision the rich opportunities of such a device. For this reason the design managers at Motorola are seeking creative ideas (scenarios) to help visualize (envision) existing problems (problem finding) related to all stakeholders as well as the potential opportunities (problem solving) for this potentially rich market. What they need for their team of designers, engineers, and programmers is compelling visualizations that help define the various personas, problems, and opportunities specifically in diverse urban markets.

The Curriculum
The Project Introduction Class

The students were given an overview of their final assignment for the semester, not including the design brief, by their instructor. They were shown a video example of a similar project produced by Allen Cooper of Cooper’s Product Design and Strategy Inc., their Stratus Air project. There was then an introduction to DD+D and how we’ve used theatre to help designers visualize, ideate around, and empathize with users, and that we would be working with them on this project. They were also shown a portion of a Bodystorming video that DD+D facilitated for a corporate client.

This introduction to the project was 20mins. in length and happened a week prior to the four hour class. What follows is a description of the four hour class.

PART ONE: Re-introductions and Context

At the top of the class. the design student from ID/IIT shared his background as a designer who discovered the benefits of improv in his work. DD+D’s focus in the Intro class was from a theatre to design perceptive. The ID student’s intro was from a design to theatre perspective, representing the point of view of students in the class. After the ID student’s intro we reviewed the agenda for the class. We then showed the final video from the Chicago Service Jam, in which both the facilitators and the class instructor had participated. The service design Jam brought together various types of designers to work on a service design solution based on a global theme. The designers, at the Jam, had 48hrs. to complete this task. Theatre/improv exercises were used to prepare teams for brainstorming (Gerber 2009) and as a prototyping method during the Jam. We wanted to show the students that theatre/improv can be an effective tool when time is a constraint. And to reinforce that professional designers use the techniques. The students had the two months remaining in the semester to complete this class assignment.
Next, we introduced a theatre+design timeline with examples of how these techniques have been used over the years by designers, clients and users to achieve deeper understanding of design problems and solutions. We wanted to show the history of this work, to place it in the historical context of the design field, and to encourage students to do follow-up reading on the research of the past. Different key examples were pointed out from the timeline. (One of the examples given was Patricia Moore’s work in immersion.) We also covered the changes in the design field of late, looking at the trend from product to interaction to service and how this trend requires new prototyping methods including theatre.

PART TWO: Getting In Touch with People (and Problems)

In preparation for the class students were given the above design brief, broken into teams and asked to do primary and secondary research on the stakeholders described in the brief. They were to bring in their research in the form of personas. In class, each team had five minutes to report back their findings and present their personas. The goal was to develop an initial sense of key stakeholders, identify high level insights and problem areas. The students were coached by the facilitators and their instructor to flesh-out their persona’s motivations, biographical details and context as they reported. As the teams reported back, the main insights from their data were captured on whiteboards. Their insights were depicted through drawings, sketches, and words allowing students to visualize all their findings as a group. Patterns in the findings were discussed and highlighted through the drawings.

PART THREE: Stepping Into Their Shoes

We then rearranged the classroom to allow space for movement and acting. The goal of this section of the class was to help the students start to embody and empathize with key stakeholders, and to lower their inhibitions. Students were taken through a series of warm-up exercises that actors use to prepare their minds and bodies for acting. We then moved to theatre–based embodiment exercises to help the students to put the emotion of their personas in their bodies in prep for the scene work to come. The first scenes that were performed revolved around problem situations similar to the ones identified in their research. They were also coached during the scenes; asked about their character’s behavior, motivations, and feelings in the moment, all in an attempt to establish a deeper empathy and understanding of the characters and the context.

PART FOUR: The Scene

Students were then broken into two groups to brainstorm and write a day in the life scenario that they would then play back in a five minute scene. The goal was to use the perspectives of their personas to write a scene that captured the communication breakdowns and opportunities that Motorola could address. Once an idea was chosen, each student was to pick a key stakeholder to embody during the scene development process. Facilitators were to help students pick and stick with these choices. One student would be the narrator, to help glue the scene together and tell the story.

PART FIVE: Curtain Up!

Students performed their scenarios, and critique/class discussion followed including next steps. Students were asked to reflect on the experience as they worked on their assigned scenarios for the next class.


Will be coming sooon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chicago Service Jam'11 Final Video Presentation

Chicago Service Jam 2011 Submission - Swoop from Jennifer Wittman on Vimeo.

Description: Swoop! a service platform empowering people to better their communities one deed at a time. People would like to contribute to the community but often can’t commit to a set schedule. The Swoop! platform allows community members to identify and address local challenges,engages members of the community to solve those challenges, and reap the rewards. Using either their smart phone or home computer, Swoop! users can record social ills such as,trash in the neighborhood, graffiti or snow build up. These needs are posted as ‘missions’ for other members of the community to tackle. Each mission is assigned a point value based on the urgency. Missions can grow in urgency as other people also mark them as an issue. People can then accept the mission, complete the task, and win the points. Points are used toward acquiring community awards like neighborhood beautification, school improvements, or additional resources. Swoop! helps people work together to create super communities The Swoop! ecosystem and photos from the process can be found on our site at http://www.chicagoservicejam.org/

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chicago Service Jam '11

On Friday March 11th, people in nearly 50 cities around the world will be getting together over 48 hours for the first Global Service Jam. Working with a shared theme, we will design and rapid-prototype services. It will be a chance to learn more about service design and service design techniques… by ‘doing’. We’ll be uploading the results onto Global Service Design HQ Hub… and all the designs will be presented to the world!

The Chicago Service Design Jam Host Byron Stewart invites Chicago area non-profits, designers, creatives, entrepreneurs, academics, and students to participate in the global experience at Conifer Research. Come work with and learn from our amazing Team of Design Coaches.

Scholarships available!

Tickets are going fast Please registar TODAY!

The Details:
Dates: Friday, March 11th through Sunday, March 13th.Time: Starting 5:30pm Friday, March 11th. until 4:00pm Sunday March 13th.Host Location: Conifer Research 67 East Madison Street Suite 1900 Chicago, Illinois 60603



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Service Design Thinking for Non-profits

DD+D invites non-profit professionals to attend a free Service Design Thinking (SDT) workshop at the IIT Institute of Design. SDT is an innovative tool to improve client outcomes, enhance employee satisfaction, and increase program impact. To learn more

This event is one of the offerings of the Chicago Service Jam '11 For more info on the Jam http://www.chicagoservicejam.org/

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Improv and Embodied Personas at IxDA Event

Byron had the opportunity to collaborate with Ed Chen on a design challenge for the January IxDA event. Byron added improv exercises to aid in brainstorming and played a Embodied Persona/Spark.

Here is a description on the event and design results!
(Originally posted on Ed Chen's Design Intentions blog)

IxDA Chicago Meeting Recap
Event Description

Natural disasters are disruptive: physically, socially and psychologically. Governments and NGOs devote significant resources to provide basic needs such as food and shelter but little to facilitate social development and psychological recovery. In underdeveloped nations, the results can be devastating. The poor are further marginalized and psychological scars can have deep, long-lasting implications.

At this meeting, we explored in multidisciplinary teams the survivor experience and search for ways to improve the delivery of social and psychological aid services in the 6 month to 3 year time frame after a disaster. We were not there to redesign government preparedness or the NGO model, but to supplement their work with considerations for a more humane response that helps the affected move from victim to survivor status. We presented an overview of the situation in Chile and divide IxDA members into small teams. Each team tackled a different issue such as displaced elder care, psychological aid for children, information systems for social learning, and the reestablishment of community identity.

This was a great opportunity to contribute to a social response project while collaborating with your counterparts in other disciplines.

Meeting Agenda
6:00 Arrive, mix and mingle
6:30 IxDA welcome and introduction
6:35 Presentation: design context
6:45 Improv (warmup) exercises
7:00 Brainstorming sessions
7:30 Presentation of results
7:50 Debrief
8:00 Meeting adjourned

Design Context
About every 25 years, an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater hits Chile. Since the 1960 Valdivia quake, building codes have improved, but has preparedness?

While improvements to buildings and infrastructure minimized the loss of life, the 2010 quake still severely damaged 500,000 buildings and displaced over 2 million people. Hospitals in the immediate vicinity were crippled. Civic activities were cancelled. The school year was put on hold.

Heroic Stage: In the immediate aftermath, victims experienced intense emotions and behaved altruistically. While the media sensationalized riots and lawlessness, it was far more common to see people helping each other. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) set up tents to provide temporary shelter.

Honeymoon Stage: Over the next few months, these are replaced by slightly more permanent quick build shelters. Things seemed to improve as promises of aid provided hope that lives and neighborhoods would be rebuilt.

Disillusionment Stage: When aid proves insufficient, cramped, temporary shelters become more permanent. Hopes for recovery diminish.

Reconstruction Stage: Real reconstruction begins when people rely on existing community resources rather than foreign aid.

These post-disaster stages map to Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. Maslow believed that a person needed to fulfill lower level needs before moving onto higher level needs. Ultimately, people seek self-actualization but few attain that level of fulfillment. In the first week after a disaster, people seek physiological fulfillment: first aid, food and shelter; then safety to secure their immediate environment. These map back to the Heroic Stage. While governments and NGOs often address physiological and safety needs, they rarely address the socioeconomic and psychological needs that allow a person to move up the pyramid.

How can the Chilean community economically address love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization needs in the 6 month to 3 year timeframe?

Improv Exercises
led the group through 3 improv exercises that helped reinforce the rules of brainstorming: renaming things in the room, passing a metaphor ball, and collectively saying the alphabet without simultaneity.

Brainstorming Rules

1. Defer judgment -There are no bad ideas at this point. There will be plenty of time to judge ideas later.

2. Encourage wild ideas - It’s the wild ideas that often provide the breakthroughs. It is always easy to bring ideas down to earth later!

3. Build on the ideas of others -Think in terms of ‘and’ rather than ‘but.’ If you dislike someone’s idea, challenge yourself to build on it and make it better.

4. Stay focused on topic - You get better output if everyone is disciplined.

5. Be visual - Try to engage the left and the right side of the brain.

6. One conversation at a time - Allow ideas to be heard and built upon.

7. Go for quantity - Set an outrageous goal for number of ideas and surpass it! Remember there is no need to make a lengthy case for your idea since no one is judging. Ideas should flow quickly.

Design Briefs

Four teams were given one of two possible design briefs:
1. Children
Challenge: Considering the social and psychological touch points for children, how can we design a an experience that: a) establishes a psychological sense of safety and support, b) encourages acceptance/dialogue of what has happened, and c) facilitates positive meaning making?
Situation: Over half of those affected in the 2010 quake are children. Parents and guardians are injured or killed, disrupting family routines. School is cancelled until temporary schools are built or children can be assigned to other schools. Social networks are fractured as children no longer see the familiar faces that they rely on to talk through their problems. Relocations and temporary classrooms create new stressors. Friends move to other schools. Children act out. Teachers must reconcile inconsistent curriculum between school districts. Some teachers whose homes were destroyed choose to relocate. Adults are too stressed from logistical, social, and financial burdens to attend to children’s emotional needs.

Children often lose verbal skills after a traumatic event. Once a sense of safety is established through environment and routines, primary activities such as drawing, clay modeling, and acting are access points to empathy.

Positive meaning making refers to the process of accepting what has happened and looking forward rather than dwelling on the past. Moving from victim to survivor status requires processing. Part of that is memorialization. Most of it is working towards a future that’s brighter. Creating opportunities for children to participate in the community and the rebuilding process is a positive step.

This quote from an elementary school teacher (after a different disaster) provides a good summary of the post-traumatic recovery process in children across cultures:

Post-Katrina, I worked with kindergarten and fifth grade students. Art turned out to be one of the most beneficial aids in addressing and even diagnosing PTSD in children. Crayons, markers, paints, finger paints, and even creating clay sculptures of jewelry all helped. In some cases, the jewelry was sold and proceeds went to developing a playground. Since so many schools lost their play equipment, just having outdoor play equipment (or not having it) impacted the children and their behaviors tremendously.

Acting/drama/singing was another tool that proved useful. At first, it was serious stuff dealing with the storm. Later, acting became their outlet to relieve stress and help others understand their personal views and emotions.

Free writing and topical writing helped children address issues they were facing (such as living in FEMA trailers) or dig deeper into issues that were important to them.

Children like to feel like they are a part of the recovery process and are making a difference. We did things like toy and clothes drives for students who lost everything. In some cases the kids who lost a lot of “stuff” still wanted to share what they had with friends who lost more.
Any sense of normalcy is also helpful. They liked special treatment and privileges, visits from dignitaries and media, but one thing that almost all of the children said they really liked about school was that it was predictable, familiar, and had a sense of normalcy. Some students said that their favorite times were those spent at school because they could forget about living in a FEMA trailer (with eight other people) and about what had happened.

2. Community Rebuilding / Social Learning
Challenge: Considering the technology limitations of developing nations, create an information platform and system of incentives to: a) communicate and demonstrate a commitment to rebuilding the neighborhood, b) pool resources and exchange local goods and services, and c) support a sense of community.

Situation: After the earthquake, the Chilean government and NGOs stepped in to provide tents, then more intermediate-term shelters while reconstruction was to take place. Case history tells us that funds are limited and reconstruction of civic spaces and infrastructure will take place, but those directly affected will likely be stuck in these shacks until they themselves raise the funds to rebuild, leaving the middle class with a new, lower standard of living.

Community resources exist in the form of experienced labor, contractors, salvaged materials, and pooled donations from NGOs but there is no effective way of communicating individual, family or small group needs and resources and matching them with other needs and resources in the broader community. In addition, the disaster has created opportunities for fraud: not all builders will honor their contracts or use appropriate materials.

In Santiago, the internet is widely available. However, many of the affected regions are more rural and rely on radio and television for information. Regular cell phones are ubiquitous and smart phone adoption is rapidly growing but currently limited.

This quote from an interview of a Katrina survivor summarizes the feelings that people have (across cultures) in the aftermath of a disaster:

When we returned, there was NOTHING normal. Mornings were spent waiting in line (usually two hours) for our daily rations of MREs and ice. Many spent the days standing in lines, trying to figure out how to get money, compensation, weed through the red tape, and to have SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE tell them it would be ok. Afternoons were spent trying to clean, repair, and get back to normal. There was no tv when we got home. The lines were knocked down. There was no internet or land lines. The air was still very still, thick with mosquitoes and nothing else. We had electricity and plumbing, though many still did not.

Schools started to reopen, but teachers were not back yet. I decided to take a job teaching (though uncertified).Money was tight. Everyone had to pay out of pocket for evacuation, no one knew when we would be compensated, how we were all going to get everything fixed, and if life would ever be normal.

There was, however, a good in all of this. EVERYONE was friendly to each other. It was amazing. Strangers were helpful, friendly, people CARED. It was like this disaster brought us all together as a community in an US AGAINST THE WORLD mentality. The donations started pouring in, and things started looking more promising.

Sparks - Embodied Persaonas
Two sparks (embodied personas) walked around to each of the teams to mix up the conversation. One was a local community leader that asked teams to consider the cultural context for which they were designing. The other was a CFO of an NGO that wants cost-effective solutions.
Feedback on the sparks: While useful, this could have been information included within the case itself. Given the 30 minute brainstorming-to-suggestions format, the teams were probably not quite at a stage where new insight was going to help.

The four teams came back with some great suggestions and avenues for further investigation.
Team A (Children)

Objective: create a safe place for children to come to every day to help them cope with feelings of transience
1. Community garden that is run and managed by children2. Bakery to teach children vocational skills / make them feel useful3. Bike delivery service for things from the garden and bakery / bike repair service
Other ideas to help children regain verbal skills: storytelling wall/journal, improv troupe (as a distraction), pet therapy, older children mentoring younger ones

Team B (Community Rebuilding / Social Learning)
Objective: Create a central hub for a low-tech information exchange
Find a central location (perhaps an existing church) to serve as a community hub. This hub could connect to other hubs to aggregate information. Set up a bulletin/white board that collects information on name, skills, and needs, with a slot if you want to fill that need. The bulletin board could have a column where people could leave feedback on whether that person fulfilled their obligation. It’s sort of a low-tech Angie’s list. For example, if one person goes to help rebuild a house, they might then need someone to watch the kids. Maybe someone is good at cooking for large groups. There could be that exchange. Maybe the central hubs could be equipped with computers that have internet access to facilitate a service clearinghouse with other hubs and to organize more complex multiple-party exchanges.

Team C (Children)
Objective: Allow children to express themselves through activities, routine, and empowerment.
Organize kids and schedule events for them to help in the reconstruction. Maybe they can paint murals. Maybe they can recycle material from disaster for use in reconstruction. That would serve as a metaphor that memorializes what happened and serves as a building block for the future. By contributing to the rebuilding, they can see the progress in their own communities in parallel with government efforts. In order to get things on a schedule, a community center or church could serve as an organizational hub.

Team D (Community Rebuilding / Social Learning)
Objective: Create a mobile community hub of trailers with seating and a stage where people can exchange information.
The mobile model can be duplicated and moved throughout the week to serve a broader community base. One trailer would have internet access, one would have first aid services, one would have administrative services to help complete paperwork and organize community efforts. In addition, there would be vocational training to help those with limited skills to develop skills to help others. Maybe there’s a concert here each week or some event so that people want to show up.

In terms of incentives, set up a microfinance system where you get small amounts for certain achievements and future loans (for next steps) are conditioned on performance. Given that people may not have computer access, the internet station would provide access to other towns to match needs with resources. Before the internet stations get set up, perhaps someone could make the rounds through various towns to aggregate the information and coordinate a collective relief effort. A major obstacle to this is building trust. How do you know that others will perform their end of the exchange? That’s where the microloans come in: to provide monetary incentives to perform.