Bug list – design thinker’s first tool

Petti Jännäri, SID 2019 student

I love lists. I have dozens on my phone: one for books I’ve red, the ones I’d like to read, places I’d like to visit, etc. And now I have a bug list, an idea that Ideo’s David and Tom Kelley presented in their book Creative Confidence (2013). It is a list of things that I have noticed in everyday life that have creative opportunities. Issues, big and small, that someway bug me – things that could be solved with design thinking and its methods. Bug list is a tool that would be one of the first steps and lay under category Emergence in Evolution 62, an innovation and design thinking model by Mindshake.

Since design thinking is all about empathy, early action and collaboration, instead of just reading about it, I challenged my family to tackle one of the items on my bug list. Since “the health system” is somewhat monumental subject, I started with “engaging the whole family to do something fun during weekend” also known as item one on my bug list: “Kids just want to play Fortnite.”

To my surprise, the method worked, and we ended up having a lovely weekend with forest walk, reading books and watching a classic from the 90’s, the Kindergarten cop – thanks to collaboration. Funnily that was the part I struggled with and which taught me the most during my first design thinking exercise in SID class. As a journalist, I consider ideation a team effort but also something that must be viewed with a critical eye and at the end, with every story there is a byline. During the exercise, we didn’t have time to be too critical and the design thinking process was less controllable, even messy and there for a bit scary, I must admit. But as Ideo’s Tim Brown has argued in Harvard Business Review (2008): good ideas don´t come from the brain of one genius but are achieved by collaborating in the creative design thinking process. What freed me finally is a new perspective to me, the co-ownership of ideas.

Writing with capitals letters is one way of emphasizing the co-ownership.

Tim Brown outlines a design thinker’s personality profile and before collaboration comes empathy: “Great design thinkers observe the world in minute detail. They notice things that others do not and use their insights to inspire innovation.”
And what better tool to keep score of these things that a bug list. Bug can be something positive too, right?

Since I got my less artistic, sporty family to draw, I believe the Kelley brothers who argue that creative confidence in everyone’s reach. Next, we tackle another subject on my bug list of family life: the mystery of how to find a movie that everyone is happy to watch from the endless supply of Netflix, HBO, Viaplay, etc. The board is up.

Mindmap, another design thinker’s go-to tool, helped me narrow down the multiple ideas I had for this blog post -assignment.

4 thoughts on “Bug list – design thinker’s first tool

  1. Thanks for your post, Petti! Using ideation as a family’s decision-making tool seems to have been a fun experiment! In addition to the fact that I admire your excellent, innovative parental skills (😀), the use of bug lists seems to me like an equal, inclusive way of letting every family member to have their say about various matters. Would you say that this way the method increases democracy in family? Another thing I like about the Kelleys’ method is the importance they put on drawings as a tool for making ideas visible. Whereas words and text easily lead to varying interpretations, drawing offers an easy gateway to a more immediate and accurate understanding. As I am so used to communicating only with spoken or written words, this realization means a big paradigm shift for me! In the context of a family, drawings have another benefit: even those family members who can’t read, can understand and use them. I promise to try this at home, too!

    • Thanks for your kind words Heljä 🙂 I think it has increased democracy, especially the drawing. It limits verbal/written communication, the one adults master, and lifts kids to same level as ideators. We are currently doing our third board, humbly named by my nine-year-old: “All ideas”. The power of drawing has finally hit me, who would have thought!

  2. Thanks for your post, Petti, and for sharing how you’ve incorporated design thinking into your everyday life! I found that really inspiring and think I might test this with my family too. I fully relate to what you say about having that new and liberating perspective on ideas as being co-owned and how those ideas are created through a process that is perhaps less controlled than what we’re used to and, at least initially, slightly intimidating. But like you said, thanks to collaboration, the method worked, and I think the more we practice these methods, the more comfortable and confident we’ll become with them :).

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