In Work

Decision Making

Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 | No Comments

Creating tools for better decision making.

Project Brief
Time: 10 Weeks | Work Force: 4 Person Team | Role: Research & Design

During my summer internship at Design Concepts Inc. in Madison Wisconsin, the interns were given a summer research and design project to work on in conjunction with our client projects.
The goal of this project was to research our current understanding of how people make decisions, the mental processes, decision making theory, current decision making tools, facilitation methods, and how our findings could be applied and shared with the rest of the Design Concepts staff.

Research Methods
We conducted secondary research spanning a variety of sources including the TED archive’s Radio Lab podcast, scholarly articles, and various decision theory books. The reason we included nontraditional research resources was because, in a field that is experiencing a rapid influx like behavioral economics, effects on decision making in new media resources tend to convey newer thinking then traditional media sources.

Research Dissemination
We contextualized and narrated to out research findings so they would be stickier, hold more relevance and  be easier to understand. We presented said findings to a group of 10 internal advisors who would serve as our co-analysis team.

After, sharing our findings with our advisory team we facilitated a co-analysis session where we utilized storyboarding techniques to find opportunities and pain points to address.

Coming out of the co-analysis we decided that our findings could be used to find ways to facilitate better decision making with clients. We also found a need to create assets that would facilitate dissemination of our findings throughout the company.

Tools for sharing
To help increase the longevity of our findings and to help complete the process of information dissemination among Design Concepts 50 employees, we created a large printed poster that has all of our major findings, QR codes that link smartphone users to further information on that subject, and a digital poster that contained embedded links to TED talks, podcasts, and further reading material.

In addition to these poster assets we created a deck of decision making cards similar to IDEO method cards that contained information on that particular theory and how it might be used in the context of a design firm.

Tools for decisions
The first tool we devised was an adaptation of a classroom test taking tool called a clicker. The clickers allow people to vote for a concept that they like, but unlike a pooker-chip sort or a posit note this voting is anonymous thus increasing the wisdom of crowds effect.

The second tool we developed was a decision making facilitation technique that utilized a white board-cube. Through the technique we developed the cube is used to control for the 7 ± 2 variables theory, correct variable hierarchy, bring an air of novelty so the dopamine system can become engaged, and finally it allows for an emotional gut check as a final stage of the facilitation process.

What this project means to me
This project highlights not only the power of cross-pollination with neuroscience, and other fields, but also highlights how design can be utilized when its focus is turned inwardly to further a firms culture, knowledge and technique development.

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