How many alternatives, concepts, or sketches are enough?

19 Jan 2009 - 12:41pm
5 years ago
5 replies
453 reads
christine chastain
2008

More than the issue of "how many ideas", I always end up without adequate
prioritization mechanisms/tools by which to decide alternatives to choose
for inclusion in the iteration process.

On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 7:31 AM, Dave Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> I take the pop-corn in the microwave approach to this. take it out
> when the pops start to happen infrequently. But as Jonas says usually
> other factors create limitations before this.
>
> BTW, sketching/exploration, is not to create "alternatives" and
> "iterations" but is a ideation generation process. Even though you
> do 100 sketches, only 10 concrete ideas may come out of the process.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37356
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

Comments

19 Jan 2009 - 1:28pm
Jonas Löwgren
2003

> More than the issue of "how many ideas", I always end up without
> adequate
> prioritization mechanisms/tools by which to decide alternatives to
> choose
> for inclusion in the iteration process.

This is exactly what is hard about design.

Ideation can be learnt and performed somewhat mechanically (as many
d.i.y. creativity guides and methods illustrate). It is generally not
hard to teach people to create hundreds of idea seeds quickly for any
given brief.

But it is obviously impossible to prototype and user-test all of the
seeds to decide which one is the "best." Judgment is needed to decide
which ones to pursue and elaborate further.

Experienced designers perform such judgment tasks better than
novices. Part of that experience is familiarity with the design genre
and the intended use situation -- the judgment entails envisioning
the qualities of using the product that could grow from the seed.

And as Dave points out, generative and evaluative processes are not
mutually exclusive. Judging idea seeds involves adding, taking away,
modifying and combining to arrive at more articulated ideas.

The conventional route to building the experience needed for early-
phase judgment is, of course, to participate in design processes with
more experienced peers (in professional settings) or tutors (in
design school settings) -- to learn criteria and values, and to study
how ideas transition into actual use in the course of a design process.

Studying and practicing criticism is one additional way of
strengthening judgment skills; another is to study, think about and
speak systematically about the use of products/services in different
genres and specifically what the qualities are that distnguish good
use in those genres.

--------

Then there is the whole issue of how the use-oriented judgments
peculiar to interaction design tradeoff against other judgment
criteria, such as marketability and technical feasibility, but that
would take the discussion into the even fuzzier area of the
organizational politics of interaction design...

--------

Jonas Löwgren

19 Jan 2009 - 1:32pm
christine chastain
2008

Yes, these are methods I've used in the past and in addition K/J sorting as
part of the Six Sigma process...and more recently, prioritization at various
"phase gates" has run parallel to the development of business models (in the
case of platforms) and business cases (in the case of concepts. But I have
not been able to successfully use a holistic, predictive risk assessment
tool and would love to hear of any examples.

On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 12:25 PM, Chauncey Wilson <chauncey.wilson at gmail.com
> wrote:

> I would be curious to hear what tools colleagues do use for prioritization
> of ideas. The key issue here is what the criteria are for choosing ideas.
> In the early stages of ideation, the criteria might be different for
> choosing what to consider further (the 10 ideas out of 300) versus what to
> consider when you move into detailed design.
>
> Some general methods for prioritization are:
>
> 1. The monetary method where a sample of people are given a fixed amount
> of "money", a list of ideas or requirements along with their relative costs
> and then asked to "buy" the things of most value.
> 2. The criterion matrix where you list the criteria (weighted or
> unweighted) and then calculate a score with the top scores meeting more of
> the criteria.
> 3. Q-sorting where you ask people to sort on an important criteria on a
> scale ranging from low to high.
> 4. Private voting for the best ideas
> 5. Public voting for the best ideas (red dots on the best ideas)
> 6. Consensus
> 7. Decision by a leader
> 8. Decision by another group
> 9. The target method (good for a first cut between good and not-good
> idea)
>
> In braindrawing exercises, the design team would look at lots of sketches
> and mark ideas that seem worth pursuing which would be consensus or voting
> and would then have a product team do a second level of prioritization on
> specific criteria.
>
> What other techniques do people use? This is something that doesn't seem
> to get discussed much.
>
> Chauncey
>
> On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 12:41 PM, christine chastain <
> chastain.christine at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> More than the issue of "how many ideas", I always end up without adequate
>> prioritization mechanisms/tools by which to decide alternatives to choose
>> for inclusion in the iteration process.
>>
>> On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 7:31 AM, Dave Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> > I take the pop-corn in the microwave approach to this. take it out
>> > when the pops start to happen infrequently. But as Jonas says usually
>> > other factors create limitations before this.
>> >
>> > BTW, sketching/exploration, is not to create "alternatives" and
>> > "iterations" but is a ideation generation process. Even though you
>> > do 100 sketches, only 10 concrete ideas may come out of the process.
>> >
>> > -- dave
>> >
>> >
>> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>> > Posted from the new ixda.org
>> > http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37356
>> >
>> >
>> > ________________________________________________________________
>> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>> >
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
>
>

19 Jan 2009 - 3:02pm
christine chastain
2008

Here's the thing, though - this is a great start but I still don't see it
linked to risk assessment and ultimately the bottom line...I know, what
every designer/design researcher/innovator hates to hear...

But, once again, I'm in the position of having to show, to the board of
directors of a large non-profit foundation, how our budget will be used to
support numerous platforms, under which reside numerous projects/concepts.
Essentially, they would love to hear that one or another idea (in this case,
the prioritization has already been made, based on collective criteria) will
be a return on investment and I have no way, beyond presenting a business
case study and linking concepts to future portfolio efforts, to provide that
information. What I really need is a risk assessment/predictive model that
looks at a variety of future scenarios and takes into account current and
future business state/future general population need, etc. Has anyone heard
of anything like that?

On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 1:44 PM, Chauncey Wilson
<chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>wrote:

> You make a good point though I didn't specifically mention equal voting at
> all. You could have a small group who, as you say, have their necks on the
> line or you could have private voting of the 10 top designers in the
> country
> using polling software or you could generate criteria and have your small
> group use the criteria as a starting point for a deeper discussion of the
> type you suggest. You mention listing the criteria on the board which is a
> great starting point, because many groups fail to explicitly identify
> criteria that they are using (that method sounds like the QOC method -
> Questions-Options-Criteria - that is described in the "design rationale"
> literature.)
>
> Some time ago, I worked with a group of people who necks were on the line
> and the use of a group Q-sort on the dimension of 'project risk" for
> particular requirements worked much as you described with the different
> items getting much discussion among respected team members and then getting
> placed into low, medium, and high risks. The discussion for each item often
> elaborated on what was risky for the different representatives.
>
> Chauncey
>
>
>
> On Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 1:59 PM, Scott Berkun <info at scottberkun.com>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > All of these methods you listed strike me as limiting in they emphasize
> > equal voting - often I don't believe everyone deserves an equal vote.
> > Heretical perhaps, but I'd much rather let a small number of people who
> > will
> > be held accountable for the final design entirely drive these
> explorations.
> > It's their necks on the line. They should at least win or lose on their
> own
> > intuitions.
> >
> > Having people vote on one sentence, or one sketch, descriptions of ideas
> is
> > always a crap-shoot: people are heavily biased to the ideas they're
> > familiar
> > with, and they can't be equally familiar with all the ideas.
> >
> > With a pile of 50 ideas and only time to explore 5, I'd sit down with
> the
> > three or four people most accountable for the final result and talk it
> out.
> > I would depend on intuition, debate and persuasion more than any sort of
> > numerical/polling/ranking system.
> >
> > If I did anything "methody", which I'd try to avoid, I do one of two
> > things:
> >
> > 1) Have a list of criteria, or project goals, or desirable attributes up
> on
> > the whiteboard during that discussion to help us frame our opinions.
> >
> > 2) Make the goal to pick one high risk idea, three medium risk ideas, and
> > one low risk idea. This frames the problem of picking alternatives as a
> > risk
> > portfolio, where our goal is to distribute the creative risks in some
> way.
> > This makes it ok to advocate a crazy idea, since that's desirable to fit
> > the
> > high risk slot.
> >
> > But most importantly, if I didn't have the power to grant this much
> > authority to those 3 people, my real problem is political, not the quest
> > for
> > the perfect number of alternatives.
> >
> > -Scott
> >
> > Scott Berkun
> > www.scottberkun.com
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> > [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> > Chauncey Wilson
> > Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 10:26 AM
> > To: christine chastain
> > Cc: Dave Malouf; discuss at ixda.org
> > Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How many alternatives, concepts,or sketches
> are
> > enough?
> >
> > I would be curious to hear what tools colleagues do use for
> prioritization
> > of ideas. The key issue here is what the criteria are for choosing
> ideas.
> > In the early stages of ideation, the criteria might be different for
> > choosing what to consider further (the 10 ideas out of 300) versus what
> to
> > consider when you move into detailed design.
> >
> > Some general methods for prioritization are:
> >
> > 1. The monetary method where a sample of people are given a fixed amount
> > of
> > "money", a list of ideas or requirements along with their relative costs
> > and
> > then asked to "buy" the things of most value.
> > 2. The criterion matrix where you list the criteria (weighted or
> > unweighted) and then calculate a score with the top scores meeting more
> of
> > the criteria.
> > 3. Q-sorting where you ask people to sort on an important criteria on a
> > scale ranging from low to high.
> > 4. Private voting for the best ideas
> > 5. Public voting for the best ideas (red dots on the best ideas) 6.
> > Consensus 7. Decision by a leader 8. Decision by another group 9. The
> > target method (good for a first cut between good and not-good idea)
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

19 Jan 2009 - 4:10pm
Jerome Ryckborst
2007

In answer to the original question -- "How many ideas qare enough?"
-- I'd say it can be reassuring to have a number, as a guideline.

Here's a number, based on my experience: if you ask three to four
people to separately prepare come up with substantially different
ideas, then you'll typically have a saturated design space for the
design of [something] at most levels of granularity.

The previous paragraph needs to be fleshed out:
- Substantially different: It's not sufficient to produce 5
variations on a theme.
- Granularity: That is, this works for a mental model, a workflow, a
web page, an application feature. If the granularity gets too fine,
it starts to feel ridiculous.
- Use four people, unless participants are experienced at ideation.
- This is a guideline, not a rule. Your experience may differ.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37356

19 Jan 2009 - 4:53pm
mtumi
2004

One less than the one that starts to hold up the development process.

MT

Syndicate content Get the feed