UPDATE as of June 9, 2016 (originally published 1/4/2016)

I came across the original draft/file for what is now called DEEPdt “Flashlab” found in MVIFI’s Playbook I co-authored with TJ Edwards, Bo Adams, & Trey Boden in 2014 when I was the Director for the Center for Design Thinking.

Back then I felt that as great as the “Playbook” was, there needed to be a faster, lighter version to run a DEEPdt challenge (similar to the d.School’s Gift Giving/New City Experience setup).  As the Playbook has several options, sometimes a designer just needs the “nitty gritty” to get the job done. I remember a meeting we had one Friday afternoon in the spring where I argued the case for this “faster, lighter” version (Allison Toller was in this meeting too).  I was challenged by Bo and Trey that if I felt strongly enough to create such a version, I would have the weekend to “getter done.” So I did… 

Below is the first draft/file for what I called at the time “the DEEPdt Cram Session.” Later that week, Bo, Trey, TJ, & I polished this draft up to its current version. We added some Playbook pgs as well (except 4 corners is a rift off of d.School’s feedback tool & Hero’s Journey addition to the 60 second story comes from the Star Wars’ Boys 🙂 as you can see below and TJ renamed it “Flashlab.” As with the Playbook, Trey took the work & ideas and created the “official” draft. By the way, the Playbook & Flashlab publications are correctly & honestly copyrighted to MVIFI.  Yet for #DEEPdt creation/methos/design © 2010 

In uncovering this version and also remembering the “WHY” for a faster, lighter version still stands, get ready for a NEW DEEPdt Rapid-Cycle version. Until then here are the official DEEPdt Learning MEANS (pick & choose)











(notice how I tried to match the Discover shape in Trey’s Question mark 🙂

Have you ever tried the d.School’s Gift Giving Challenge, or New City Experience, or even Design a Wallet Design Thinking Crash Course?  They are very good, solid examples of three immersive experiences for a User/Designer to dive into the world of design thinking.

They provide structure, timing, and almost a step by step feel. They are also designed to be run in pairs and give excellent prompts & encouragement along the way.

The DEEPdt FlashLab is well, sort of like the above yet does not lead with the What but instead with the How. It provides the framework for a rapid-process through the DEEPdt modes. What I mean by “What” is the content, the design topic is already given to you.   What I mean by “How” is the methods and tools of DEEPdt are provided but you as the designer/User fill in the blank for the challenge.   If you are a reader of DEEP design thinking and/or we have had conversations about design thinking, you are aware of my hesitancy of starting a design challenge with a HMW question.   You are also aware that I love to launch into an opportunity for change with a crack or just a few words. For me the DEEPdt FlashLab works so well because it is not set in stone in so many ways.

Over the last few months, I have been involved in several FlashLabs with an array of characters.

Here are just some DEEPdt FlashLabs:

  • School
  • Safety Patrol Uniforms
  • High School Graduation
  • SS Learning Outcomes
  • Attention Span
  • Customer Service
  • Nourish Self, Cultivate Team
  • Learning Environments + 4Cs
  • From Waking to Working
  • Pets on Halloween
  • Creative Impact
  • CCL
  • Attention Seeking
  • Uniforms
  • Leaving the Lunchroom

One more thing about DEEPdt FlashLabs… they are not just designed for pairs or step by step or limited by what the ink says to do.  And this here lies the beauty to the DEEPdt FlashLab design.  Partner Designers (two designers to a User+ ), Small Groups of 3-4 (multiple Users), & 1 to 1 (designer/user dual role) can run through a FlashLab simply and easily.

In Discover mode, you can use Unpack It (version 2.0), Spidea Web, and/or Rose, Thorn, Bud. Again, in pairs, small groups, or whole group (utilizing wall space or other surfaces).  I have even used the Discover tools with just the Users to help prime their thoughts before the Designers approached them.

In Empathize,  I have utilized the empathy map, define distiller, MoVe man, and/or simply affinity mapping the findings.  Designers have developed MoVe statements or filled out the dt mad lib:  User + Need= Insight in some cases.  Other times, simply synthesizing the findings and letting gravitation towards a compelling need of a User led the way by the designer(s).

The FlashLab is physically designed for sketch prototyping but rarely have I run through it with designers without getting their hands just a little dirty….  To me (an aspect to remedy in DEEPdt FlashLab 2.0) once designers do some sketching of their ideas, they are left a little flat-literally & figuratively. They need the extra time and help to articulate their idea in a tangible form.  Again, the beauty of the FlashLab is its flexibility, broadness, and well usage as a whole or in bits & pieces.

Another aspect to the FlashLab is giving the designer the opportunity to share their work either using Four Corners or by crafting a 60 second story of their findings, solutions, and most importantly demonstration their empathy towards their User.

Before Christmas break during the FlashLab: School, paired up 6th graders moved from Four Corners, straight into a whole class shareout of their solutions.   A common theme of a need was being echoed and the class went into iteration mode volleying back and forth different ideas.  They Flared and Focused, refined their User + Need, identified motivators & conflicts for their solution, and role-played how it might play out.  They call it Operation Kindness (stay tuned).

The DEEPdt FlashLab is an aspect of the DEEPdt methodology that is in constant practice and iteration.  I hope Jim Tiffin would call it an “amoeba-like structure” and far from being a box/cookie cutter.