Problems happen every day in our societies and as human nature, we always try to find a way to solve them. But what differentiates a solution from a good solution? What differentiates a solution from the solution that is needed? As Engineers and problem solvers, we should never solve problems for our societies inside our labs, but we should reach out to society. We should reach out and build a strong empathy then conduct interviews to better understand those who we are building a solution for, thereafter we can use our skills to make an impactful solution. This approach is called the Human-Centered design approach.
The Human-Centered design approach helps us to create innovative new solutions rooted in people’s needs. This is possible by using three problem solving phases: Inspiration, Ideation, Implementation.
Inspiration is the first phase whereby we learn to understand people better, to know the hopes and desires but most of all to know the extremes and mainstream. This phase is where we research to gather as much data as possible through observation, interviews, and secondary research.
Figure 1. Handwashing station at Amana Hospital (Inspiration Phase)
Ideation is the following phase in which the gathered data is then shared among team members by the “Download learnings” method and sharing inspiring stories. This helps team members to understand the problem in different ways and create patterns across the problem. After we have defined the themes in the problems, we create Insight statements that support and say more about the themes.
Figure 2. Sharing stories with team members (Ideation phase)
Figure 3. Downloading our learnings (Inspiration phase)
Implementation is the last phase which is usually solution-focused whereby a prototype is created and tested by the stakeholders of the problem to refine it if necessary. Finally the impactful solution is established which is the solution needed. Hence, you will have a good solution due to the refinement made during the process.