Live blogging (wiki-casting) December 12 and 13, 2013, from a Design Thinking workshop at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM)
Trainers/facilitators Dana Mitroff Silvers and Molly Wilson
Hosts Vicki Portway and Beatrice Mowry, NASM

Definition of Design Thinking (wikipedia)


I'll update the page (new posts at the bottom) and tweet periodically (as @mpedson) using the hashtag #designThinkNASM.
Refresh the page in your browser to see new stuff.
Thanks!!! - edsonm edsonm

Design Thinking Resources

Wikipedia: Definition of Design Thinking

Make anything better in an hour: how to run a public brainstorm

Collective Action Toolkit

Design Thinking methods, templates, recipes Stanford

Human Centered Design Toolkit (

Design Thinking for Educators (IDEO)

Design Thinking for Museums

Twitter (live tweet during the days)

[TO-DO - - turn this into a storify or otherwise archive/present - edsonm edsonm]

Day 1

Starting at 9:30 with a warm up - - calling out names

9:35 - - crash course. Pair off. Redesign "the vacation experience" for your partner.

1. Start by gaining emphathy - - the goal is to start a conversation
Dana: "The fundamental process of human centered design is gaining empathy for the person/user"
  • 2 sessions, 3 minutes each, of interviewing your partner.
  • 2 sessions, 3 minutes each, of digging deeper. Ask "why"
  • take visual notes

2. Define the problem statement: 3 minutes
Partner name/description of problem: _ needs to [user needs, VERBS!], but, surprisingly, _
What did you notice that he/she didn't notice?
what can you tell about this person's worldview?

3. Ideate
Sketch at least 4 radical ways to meet your user's needs. 5 minutes. Brainstorming. Take visual notes.

4. Share your solutions and capture feedback (6 minutes)

5. Build a prototype solution. 8 minute

6. Test your solution and get feedback. 8 minutes
What worked?
What could be improved?

Interviewing users/visitors

Training on how to interview users.

50 minutes of interviewing visitors at the National Air and Space Museum

(Lunch break)

Empathy Maps

Overview of creating an Empathy Map, a way of unpacking and deciphering information from user interviews.

designThink 02 P1270787.JPGEmpathy Map P1270792.JPG

Point of View Statements

What goes into a Point of View Statement

USER needs to do something BECAUSE of need/insight.
USER needs to NEED because of INSIGHT

A Nepali Mother NEEDS TO keep her premature baby warm in the early hours
She can't get to the hospital to use an incubator

Point of View story

Exercise. 30 minutes
Brainstorm a Point Of View madlib, based on your user interviews
USER needs to NEED because of INSIGHT

"This is hard, because you have to give stuff up" in your discussions.

  • Our curious re-visitor from 30 years ago wants to connect with a story, to rekindle his sense of awe
  • Rebecca, our educated, curious, object person, ...
  • Nick, a caring son in his 30's, wants to re-experience the museum with his ailing family...
  • (reinforce connections)
  • Raul, an international visitor, needs to tour the collection systematically, because he is afraid of missing things


Brainstorming Best/Worst Practices

Exercise: role playing with 5 typical "bad behavior" types in brainstorming sessions
e.g. talking over everyone; distracted by phone; only interest in their own ideas; shoots down everyone else's ideas...

Exercise: role play brainstorm redesigning a hospital using best practices

Brainstorming best practices

  • capture everything
  • define the problem clearly
  • one conversations at a time
  • go for quantity
  • headline! (capture idea in 1 postit)
  • Build on the ideas of others
  • encourage wild ideas
  • be visual
  • stay on topic
  • defer judgment

Dana says "using these best practices made a big difference when we started using them at SFMOMA" (paraphrase)

'How might we...' statements

Starting from the POV statements...
Used to focus brainstorming.
"how might we use his kids to get him excited about sites"
Tactic: amp up the good
Tactic: minimize or remove the bad
Tactic: create an analogy
Reference: see

Exercise: develop 5 "how might we" statements from our interviews and POV statements.

Technique: "Yes, And"

exercise: pretend you've been on a vacation together.
Do a game called "shared memory" - - pretend you've been to Euro Disney, have a dialogue, agree with whatever the other person says, say "yes and" and move the dialogue farther.




2 minutes, make a gift for someone on your team out of 1 postit note. Give it to them and receive theirs. Tell them what it means to you and how much you love it.

Begin prototyping - - 40 minutes

"Before you begin building a prototype, ask yourselves these questions: What is this? How does it work? (Write out the answers, quickly)" - - Molly

Prototypes Done

Testing prototypes up in the galleries - - 40 minutes

Reporting back on results of testing

2 minutes per group.

Team 1.
POV statement: Nick... preserve memories with his ailing dad
prototype: allows visitors to compare their life to milestones of collections
Testing worked well. Families responded well, bringing up family stories.

team 2:
Carrie, independent self assured woman with family connections to the aerospace industry, needs to commune with the objects in order to reinformce the connections.
Prototype of large projection wall, highlighting major collection objects.
TESTING worked well. 3 groups of visitors. Loved the concept. Had no plans for what they wanted to do. Everyone assumed they could find out more about objects. Presentations should be short. itnermix with visito support information.

Team 3:
Raul, NEEDS TO navigate the museum in a linear/logical way, BECAUSE he was unfamiliar/uncomfortable with our exhibit pedagogy.
Prototype: super ultra mega information desk.
TESTING. lot of great feedback from users. Team decided to focus on the LOCATION of the desk.
TEAM decided we needed to focus on testing where the info desk should go.
Current desk only 15% of visitors from S entrance. N entrance captures 100% of visitors +/-.
We handed kids a cardboard mockup of an iPad and told them it was an app for them, then asked them what it did. Lots of enthusiasm - - "make arrows on the floor light up to the best things"; "see the moon";

Team 4:
POV statement - - Ernest, who is a curious re-visitor from 30 years ago, wants to connect w an amazing story to rekindle his sense of awe.
Prototype: touch the moon rock and use that as a way to cue videos about it.
TESTING: people were really interested in more about the object, less about the stories. Strong gravitation to info about that object. Inconclusive how the test would run if the videos were of a person/expert. Tested with a curator as the video, and everyone was engaged and had follow up questions.

Team 5:
Rebecca, curious object person, wants to ... and learn more.
Prototype: touch screen. What would visitors touch? Language feature. Like a storyboard/wireframe.
TESTING: a lot of engineers, military people, not experts per se, were very interested in it.


how to approach this process for "word" people - - outside of comfort zone
Tensions between authority/controll
Sometimes prototyping isn't the right thing to do
"yesterday, when you walked into this room, it was empty. Now it's full of ideas. You wouldn't have gotten to that in a normal process."
challenging to go and do testing without a predefined protocol, asking different questions to different people, was outside my comfort zone.


Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, process (focus and flare, "Yes and..." ...)
"you don't need to use the whole process" - - use a la carte.
"You can do empathy interviews, ideation, in just 1 meeting..."
try 40 minutes of this a month, with curators. Stand-up meetings.
List of further reading and resources

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