November 17, 2014

Dream Prototyping

Dreams. Those vague images that we hold in disconnected clouds above our heads. We all have them and we can all make them a reality in the same way that we design other things.

Design is for dreams too.

But how do we take the idea that’s floating in the thought bubble above our heads, send it to the reality printer, and enable ourselves to live that experience for real? How do we prototype a dream?

At IDEO, we use a creative problem-solving process known as design thinking. That’s how ideas are translated into a tangible, interactive experience you can touch. Through empathic research, prototyping, and iteration, we build dreams — not only for our clients, but for ourselves.

As a student at Ei, my first company experience is as a Community Manager and Media Designer for OpenIDEO’s Ebola Response Challenge. In support of the USAID Grand Challenge for Development, we’re helping seek new ideas to equip healthcare workers on the ground in West Africa, to stop the deadly outbreak.

Amongst the sea of rainbow colored post-it notes and eclectic prototyping, I'm lucky enough to work alongside many boundary-pushing minds, fearless opinions, and people brave enough to have a dream and iterate on translating that dream into a reality.

So, how does one join in on dream prototyping?

Step One: Forget about what you think you want. Your prototype will bloom into something completely different.

Step Two: Collect what’s important to you and put it on the table. Use symbols — whether physical objects or images of something that represents that dream.

Step Three: Reconfigure your dream. Use the objects in a way that best reflects how they play out over time. Tell yourself the story.

Step Four: Experience what it is to live each part of that map you’ve just created.

Step Five: Remix your story by taking it back to step two. This time, add new things that you didn’t know you wanted and remove parts that you thought you did, but are now not so relevant.

Dreams are an important part of our growth, but so is having the courage to grow and accept that, through iteration and prototyping, our dreams can one day be something we live day by day.

My dream is urbanizing health care and empowering others to do so as well. Through my year at the Experience Institute, starting at IDEO, I’m prototyping what health care delivery would look like if we were able to fuse modern lifestyles and urban culture to empower preventative strategies and initiatives. I’m prototyping experiences that are designed to make us happier, more productive, and that help us thrive — without it looking like health care at all.

So, what dream would you build to thrive? Perhaps you might join me on my dream prototyping journey...

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