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  • This is one view of how the design process works – it is usually called “the waterfall” view. Many projects and design processes are planned based on the idea of a waterfall. We get milestones based on deliverables such as the debriefing, concept, ontwerp, demo/prototype and the finished product. However, this is problematic…
  • A wicked problem is a problem whose its exact nature is not clear until you have begun to develop a solutions: it is an ill-defined problem that does not have right or wrong solutions, but better or worse ones. Some of the implications of wicked problems include: that there is no right solution to any design problem; there is no stopping rule, you could go on trying to improve the solution until you run out of resources; and every design problem and solution is unique. This feature of design problems makes design difficult, but rewarding for anyone to learn, because wicked problems are not just restricted to design but are common in business and social policy too.
  • The fuzzy, wicked or ill-defined nature of design problems makes solving them rather like trying to get somewhere without knowing where you are exactly and also not really being sure where you need to get to.
  • In reality the process is not (and should not be) a waterfall. You have deadlines and these cannot be avoided, but the fact that you are solving a wicked problem means that you have to work in a way that allows you to hit your milestones, but be flexible enough to explore the problem space to allow you to develop a better solution.
  • Oneapproach is to see the phases between milestones as iterative phases allowing you to go through the following loops as much as possible:1. Define the problem2. Look for inspiration (design research)3. Develop some possible solutions by visualizing them (a simple prototype) and then test them (with other students, with coaches, with the user, etc.)4. Assess the results and ask yourself “am I solving the right problem?”, “are my solutions effective?”5. If necessary redefine the problem and/or look for more ideas for solutions6. Go to number 2. againRepeat as necessary to improve the definition of the problem and the solution until you are happy with the solution (remember there is no perfect answer to a wicked problem) and/or you hit a milestone. And remember the solution is not final until you have to deliver the ontwerp (and some think this is not the end either although I am not sure about this !)-
  • One approach for exploring the problem space has been proposed by Dave Gray & Sunni Brown & James Macanufo
  • Play can be very useful in exploration and learning, but it is usually not very directed and the learning tends to affect the individual. This is not the world where most of our work is done – we deal with complex wicked problems in teams. The exploration and learning needs to be shared and understood by many.
  • Games offer the chance to explore and learn in the problem space, but they are collaborative. A game has rules that take the players outside reality that facilitates collaboration. The game space is temporary place that can create the conditions to learn, explore and collaborate.
  • Improve the Dutch Public Transport Chip Card (OV-Chip card)


  • 1. Tackling Complexity ThroughCollaborative GamesCharlie MulhollandHogeschool van AmsterdamDesign by Fire 2011
  • 2. Agenda- Design and wicked or fuzzy problems- Innovation games and the problem space- Let’s have a go
  • 3. Design and wicked or fuzzy problems
  • 4. One view of a design proces
  • 5. Design involves wicked or fuzzy problems!Source: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2744/4524305428_5d6c103eca_o.jpg
  • 6. These are ill-defined problems. And where you need to be is perhaps around here Or even here Or maybe here You are probably somewhere around here But actually you might well be here
  • 7. No good or bad: just better or worseSource: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2432/3648816968_aff7499167_b.jpg
  • 8. With infinite definitions of the problem and solutionSource: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4039/4545729148_a6ce9171d9_b.jpg
  • 9. The design process is not a waterfall
  • 10. So we have agile…
  • 11. …or agile-ish
  • 12. However, the problem ofthe problem space remains…
  • 13. Innovation games and the problem space
  • 14. Play as learning & exploration
  • 15. Games as learning & exploration
  • 16. So let’s have a go…
  • 17. Technique
  • 18. The brief
  • 19. Design the box• Start at the end• Design the box (the packaging) that would sell an improved Dutch Public Transport Chip card (OV-Chip) to the pubic on the shelves of Dutch High Street Stores
  • 20. ProcessFill the box (5 min.)• Brief• Personal thinking / sketching time (N.B. adaptation due to time constraints)Make the box (15 min.)• Work as a team to create your team boxSell the box (5 min.)• Sell your box to the other teams (N.B. also an adaptation for today)
  • 21. Fill the box (5 min.)• Think about how you might improve the OV-Chip card• Feel free to sketch your ideas on the A4 sheets with the exploded box diagram• The chip stays!
  • 22. Make the box (15 min.)Work as a team to make the box• You have a box and a load of materials to help you make it special• Make it eye-catching for a high street store shelf (or end of aisle)Think about things like:• Features & benefits• The name• A slogan or tag-line• ImageryThe chip still stays!
  • 23. Sell the box (5 min.)• Andrei (as a man who doesn’t live here) has been asked to choose 2 or 3 boxes• The chosen teams must then sell their box to the rest of us• Informal vote
  • 24. Want to know more?