Facilitating exploratory design

Exploratory activity during design sessions should not be about finding new opportunities. That is the end goal for sure, but not the priority at early stages.

When exploration is framed as finding opportunities, people tend to look for proximate benefits.

Cost-Benefit analysis in a wink. Evaluation is a reflex action.

This defeats the whole purpose of exploratory thinking.

Ever visited an old house with many rooms, as a child? Remember the sense of mystery and wonder that preceded each new discovery?

The satisfaction of discovering what it all means?

To explore is to venture into unknown territory, to learn about it.

In learning, you come upon new things.

When a thing you’ve learnt is still new and unfamiliar, it is malleable to strange connections, allowing you to ask odd questions and derive fantastical chimaera as answers.

Its what happened when Georges de Mestral went for a walk in the woods.

“Is that a grass burr sticking to my sock? I’m going to call this Velcro.”

To explore is to discover. To pollinate those discoveries with our own experience is to design new things.

Channeling thinking at design sessions is hard, but there’s gold in them thar hills for the customer.