"The toolkit"

Be clear of what is Current reality and desired reality

I find that when I explain my thesis process these two words are mentioned many many times. It is a really good and clear way to show people and myself about where I am and where I want to go. 


Keep asking why and make sure each step has a reason

The design process is more like a dialogue and to understand this easily, it’s better to explain what is the difference between dialogue and monologue. In monologue, we provide the experience we think users want, but once we get that feedback in no matter verbal or nonverbal way, we’re turning into a dialogue, and it’s our job to deliver on what users really want. So keeping asking myself “why why why” is a good way to do the self reflection about each decision I make. 


Make sure the Priority of audience 

Make sure who is most important audience for this project. It is true that there are a lot of audiences in a particular system, and they all influence each other or influence the fact in their way. But my time and energy are limited, I need to put them in some order. 

For example in CHW project, I was having so much passion about interviewing patients and getting to know their experience. But I cannot do things just because of the passion, the most effective way to solve a problem is to make sure who is the most important audience I need to reach out. And for the secondary audiences, I also need to talk with them but I need to do it in priority order.


ask you self what is The single most important message you want to tell to the audience

Find the real demand from the target group or the point they really care, and figure out based on the need, what is the single most important message I want to deliver. And then translate the message to creative idea. Design is a very logical process, each step should be based on a reason. The message helps me to clear my mind and always be the guideline when I feel lost. 


try to stay alone in a quiet place when you need to pay most attention on something and be creative

I usually think that group working is the most creating way to work, especially people can get inspired by others’ ideas. Because of this thought, I experienced a very tough period time during this semester, which I found during some group meetings, my brain is just blank and I cannot generate any brilliant creative ideas. This makes feel so sad and begin to question myself about “Am I a creative person?” “How can a designer work without the ability of creativity?” 

I’m a very sensitive person, and it is too easy for me to notice the atmosphere and the relationship in a group. Sometimes it is not a good thing because that would distract my attention from the work. It really bother me and I cannot control myself to close my sense. I’m trying but that’s hard. 

After doing the reading about being more creative when someone stay alone in a quiet place, I began to have the awareness or I can say I start to notice how different my state is when I think alone without interruption and when I work and discuss in a group. I’m so glad to see that I still have to creative ability especially when I sitting in a quiet place and pay all of my attention on one problem I need to solve, and most of the time, they are good. 

Then I found the most effective way for me to do a work, is when I feel stuck on somewhere or I need to have some ideas about one project, I need to have the time to think alone first, then bring them to a meeting or group work and discuss it. Also I think that would be effective for most of us. 

I really like this tool just because it helps me know more about myself. 


Put it in words, if you cannot say it, you cannot do it

I just want to say, that’s so true. Especially when I try to explain my thesis to someone, I find when I mind is messy, I cannot describe it in a very logical way. It’s usually like saying saying and suddenly cannot keeping going. Then I know I’m stuck in somewhere. 


As little as possible, as much as necessary

It reminds me “the 30 seconds elevator speech”. An elevator speech is a clear, brief message which communicates three basic information in 30 seconds. A clear and brief message has the biggest power because every single word is just on the point, directly and accurately. 



It’s a very useful tool which should be used at the beginning of a project. It includes Background, Assignment, Goals, Audiences, Barriers and Truths. It helps me to clear the situation at the beginning and also a basic guideline to let me check in the later process when I find I’m a little bit lost my way or feel that I’m stuck. 



Although maybe I still cannot create a good enough story, but I like the way to communicate our works to others. I want to make the notes of the Eight Classic Storytelling Techniques, just in case I forget some of them in the future. 

  • Monomyth or Hero’s Journey
  • The Mountain (This one is very dramatic)
  • Nested Loops (Three or more narratives layered within one story)
  • Spark Lines (Contrast the ordinary world with the vision, the ideal)
  • In Media Res
  • Converging Ideas
  • False Start (Begin something that sounds predictable, then turn the tables and shock or at least surprise.)
  • Petal Structure (Organize multiple speakers around a common theme)

According to the few times practice, it seems like I usually use the Spark Lines because I always pay more attention on the “current reality” and “desired reality”, and the contrast between them. I mean it is good but I hope in sometime I can try more other techniques. 


Do not put so much energy to against with something. Creating a better one defends on the reality and see if it works, It works!

I generate this principle from the quote of Bucky Fuller: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." 


If you cannot explain it, show it

Explain ideas to people not only in words but also using sketch or mock up to show them, would be easier to let people know what I mean.