That’s a class here?

The basics of Design Theory

Amanda Brandenburg, Editor-in-Chief

Design Thinking? What is that class that you have been hearing people talk about? What do they do in that class? Why are they going to the headquarters of M&Ms?

Well, plain and simple, design thinking is about thinking! Each class works with a different company where they are given a challenge that they then use the skills they learn to solve it. The class is built on the five core principles of design: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. The class started off with simple intro games that encouraged students to think outside the box and get comfortable with one another before going on their first trip to Mars headquarters to get their challenge: “How can Mars Wrigley expand their U.S. portfolio, through promotion of everyday gift giving, AND/OR new product offerings AND/OR new gifting occasions and experiences?”

Students then returned to the school and shared ideas they had about solving the challenge, but their ideas were shut down and were told to keep thinking. One of the main goals of the class is to never stop pushing yourself when thinking of a solution to a given problem. For the next eleven weeks, the students worked on the solutions that had come up with after splitting into two groups that each worked a different aspect to the final presentation. Before finalizing the details of their successful project, they were encouraged to go back and ensure their final project covered all the design thinking mindsets: human centeredness/empathy, creative confidence, falling forward/risk taking, culture of prototyping, radical collaboration, persistence/resilience, bias towards action, and playfulness/optimism.

In a survey from the first round of students that took the class, they explained the successes and flaws of the class. Repeated successes were the open dynamic of the classroom, allowing students to work differently than a normal classroom environment, the collaboration involved, helping students to create relationships with one another and bounce ideas off each other to push their ideas further; and learning new approaches to situations in a fun way. Other successes mentioned was the class being more laid back, and getting to be involved with such a big company.  Some of the faults given were how quickly distractions took over the class because while not all students got distracted, it led to an uneven contribution of effort put into the overall project. Other faults were the want of more time to plan out their ideas as a class, and another was students being able to lead the class discussions with little to no interruptions so that they could discuss their ideas without getting off-topic. 

Overall, the class is great for everyone! Whether you are introverted or extroverted, comfortable presenting in front of crowds or scared, or prefer working alone to being in groups. You learn new techniques to solve a given problem – a very useful lesson regardless of the career path you take. From being able to collaborate with new people to presenting your ideas to an audience, this class will benefit you.