Returning Not Regressing

By SoundSpine Team

Hey, it's Jade from the SoundSpine team checking in! It's hard to believe that week 8 is winding down with just two weeks left in the program. This summer, I've been familiarizing myself with the design thinking process and its different stages. But it has proven to be a lot more dynamic. In the early research phase, I felt like a sponge just soaking in information related to the spineboard in EMT, wilderness, military, and sports contexts. During the research phase, I enjoyed conducting interviews because they added personal elements to the project and offered specific direction during research: unfamiliar lingo, products already on the market, and patient transfer techniques in interviews guided us to read related news and journal articles.

Currently, the team has transitioned from research to the ideation phase. We may have narrowed our contexts to focus on military and sports, and we may have flushed out four of our devices on paper. But we are dabbling back in research to understand our two contexts better and refine our product sketches. Rather than see this as regressive, I can see that this second research phase offers the team more specific design criteria to work with. To get to this point, the team worked through hypothetical scenarios on the battlefield and stadium from what we heard in our interviews. Mapping users' emotional highs and lows during their interactions with our device was challenging because it was such a subjective exercise. But it was rewarding to re-focus on designing around the users with greater empathy rather than develop the 'ideal' multi-functional device. With this shift, I noticed that even the interviews themselves felt different.

"Trust the design process" has frequently come up around the firm, but this was tested during the brainstorming phase. The time had come to organize all of the findings from our readings and interviews that were written on the hundreds of post-its surroundings our office space. Some of the post-it groupings hinted at promising conclusions, whereas others seemed to only lead to obvious statements. Revisiting these simple sentences helped the team gain insights that could not have been distilled from research and interviews alone. The experience of arranging and re-arranging our findings and finally building-up from them was surprising and eye-opening. In this way, the TC program has given me a framework to organize my thoughts and what I have learned along the way, while still leaving room for intuition and surprises to lead to new findings. One of the most rewarding aspects of this summer has been the team's mentors. They offer honest and constructive feedback, but they are also gracious and understand that we as a team are still learning about a whole new process. I've enjoyed having dinner with a couple of mentors and the team. The level of support and guidance offered both inside and outside of the firm has been wonderful, and I look forward to our final presentation coming up.