What Designers can learn from the OODA Loop

Our team at CHOi Design found the topic of conversation at the last IxDA Chicago meetup to be very interesting and we wanted to share it with our followers! The topic, A Designer’s Guide to Thinking like a Fighter Pilot, was researched and presented by Daniel Orbach, a designer at Mckinsey & Company.

Just as Daniel began in his presentation, I will mention now that I am not a fighter pilot nor do I know how to fly any type of plane. The talk was the result of Daniel’s interest in fighter pilots and his observations of the parallels between a fighter pilot’s and a designer’s processes.

So why should a designer be interested in the thought process of a fighter pilot? Well, we have many common themes to our work, including frequently working with incomplete information and using structured thinking to solve problems. The key difference between our professions, as it pertains to this topic, is the fact that fighter pilots have to think about problem solving in seconds… SECONDS!

The evolution of fighter pilot strategy is owed to the genius of John Boyd (Top Gun, anyone?). A United States Air Force Colonel and military strategist, John Boyd is known as the “Fighter Pilot who changed the Art of War”. In the 1950’s, Boyd developed the O.O.D.A. loop, a model for explaining how we go through the process of reacting to stimulus, or our human reaction time. Becoming skilled at using the OODA loop allows for efficient internal analysis and synthesis, which was instrumental for Boyd to gain the advantage against his opponents. Daniel highlighted the likeness of the OODA loop to the design process; besides the time of the cycles, they are strikingly similar.

OODA Loop and Design Process

The likeness between the 2 processes above shows that there is always time for structured thinking. Our team is always working to bring thoughtful, innovative attention to each phase of the design process, while also providing our clients with the best experience. Thinking about the OODA loop has inspired us to seek more opportunities for strategic thinking and to incorporate rapid iterative loops earlier in our design process.

If you want to learn more about the product design process, give us a call! We would love to talk with you!

Lindsay Schultz
Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

Our Holiday Gift Guide

It's finally feeling like winter and the excitement of the holidays is in full swing! Many of us are still hunting for the best gifts for our friends and family; but let's face it, we are also looking for presents for ourselves! At CHOi Design, we aren't lacking gift ideas that call to our inner design nerdiness. Take a look at the products we would love to see under the Christmas tree this year!

An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry

On Thursday November 16th, I attended the Ladies that UX November Talk:  Can In-House UX and Mindfulness Coexist?. Trina Uzee, Allstate’s Executive Creative Director and Wellbeing Champion, led the presentation on mindfulness and also guided us on a loving kindness meditation. This was my first time meditating, and it was really wonderful!

The presentation focused on how to bring mindfulness and positivity to an organization’s work culture. Trina spoke about the benefits of compassion, kindness, mentorship and listening; all important components of an authentic and healthy team (or work family, as Trina referred to it). Bringing mindfulness into a workplace has many positive outcomes, including long-term happiness, increased productivity, and improved team collaboration. I was particularly interested in the positive effect it had on collaboration, as team dynamics can greatly influence a design’s outcome.

One practice for increasing mindfulness is to utilize Appreciative Inquiry (AI). AI was developed in the 1980s by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, two professors at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. David Cooperrider provides a great definition of AI on his website:

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) represents a paradigm shift in the world of sustainable organizational development: a radical departure from traditional deficit-based change to a positive, strengths-based change approach. AI focuses on leveraging an organization’s “positive core” strengths to design and redesign the systems within an organization to achieve a more effective and sustainable future. (Source: http://www.davidcooperrider.com/ai-process/# )

Below is a video from AI Commons, which serves as a nice introduction to Appreciative Inquiry:

As we move into the holiday season and look towards the new year, it is the perfect time to bring more mindfulness into your work life and evaluate how appreciative inquiry could bring positive change to your organization in the next year(s).  

I will also be considering the following: Thinking beyond utilizing AI for organizational change, wouldn’t it be interesting to lead a design critique in the same manner? Focusing on what works, rather than a product’s faults, and how to build off that success? Some food for thought!

Lindsay Schultz
Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

Innovation in Football

During Chicago ideas week, I went to a discussion on the future of football. The panel, which included former NFL players Otis Wilson and Warren Sapp, primarily spoke of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist also present on the panel, was the first to identify and publish his findings on CTE in 2005. In the journal, Omalu defined CTE as a degenerative disease caused by the “long-term neurologic consequences of repetitive concussive and subconcussive blows to the brain.”

Among all present, there was a consensus that football is incredibly dangerous and that change is both inevitable and necessary. Such changes could include eliminating tackling from the sport through middle school, then eliminating from practice in high school teams and beyond. A huge responsibility for change is on the coaches. Drills and lessons are going to have new priorities, with an emphasis on safety and quality; as Otis said at the discussion, “We’re already tough, we don’t need drills to make us tougher.”

While I think the conversation that took place was immensely important and should be had with a larger audience, that is not my intention with this post. During the talk I kept thinking about design’s role in the game and the products the players rely on for safety. I wondered how it could be that I had just watched yet another video of an autonomous vehicle, but I hear very little about innovation in the equipment we see on football players every week.

With football being ingrained in the American DNA, I can only feel like we are letting down the players both young and old. As long as the sport is still being played, we should never stop innovating and finding opportunities to protect the players we love. These athletes should never feel like they are sacrificing their health to do their job and provide use with our beloved sport; yet right now, that is exactly how they feel.

Join the designers, engineers, coaches, and everyone else already working towards making football as safe as it can be. Below is a collection of products and companies that are currently working within this much needed space. Invest, design, and be inspired to contribute!

Mobile Virtual Player
The first ever self-righting mobile training device. Controlled remotely and powered by a motor, it’s an innovative training partner that can move at the speed of your opponent. With its size, which has been specifically engineered to replicate the weight and height of a college or pro player, the MVP can take a hit. By simulating human motion, the MVP allows players to practice tackling, blocking, pursuing, evading and throwing at a mobile target, without the impact and fatigue associated with athlete on athlete training.
(source: mobilevirtualplayer.com)

Image - Jim Cole/AP Images

Image - Jim Cole/AP Images

Image - ohgizmo

Image - ohgizmo

The VICIS ZERO1 is a highly-engineered football helmet designed to reduce impact forces. It is the culmination of a 3-year, $20M research and development effort shaped by some of the world’s leading athletes, engineers, and neurosurgeons. The ZERO1’s multiple layers work together to slow impact forces. The helmet features a soft outer shell and an underlying layer of columns designed to mitigate collisions from multiple directions.
(source: vicis.co)

A portable virtual reality device that can be used by coaches and sports medicine professionals on the sidelines to detect symptoms of concussion in under 60 seconds. Adapted from Stanford Sports Medicine’s concussion protocol, the EYE-SYNC Screening Algorithm gives clear guidance on the actions to be taken following a suspected head injury. Based on the latest research that ocular-motor and vestibular-balance impairments account for most neurological dysfunction, the protocol first assesses for those impairments. In so doing, the potential risk of further injury is decreased.
(source: syncthink.com)

Image - SyncThink

Image - SyncThink

Lindsay Schultz
Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

Have you ready any design fiction lately?

I was talking to someone recently about what we have been reading/listening to, and he mentioned that he has been reading a lot of design fiction. I was instantly intrigued, wondering how I had never heard of the concept before. The conversation turned into a long discussion on the world of design fiction and an evening of me reading everything I could get my hands on. This post aims to be an introduction to design fiction as well as an invitation to read some of the examples I have included.

So what is design fiction?

The term “Design Fiction” was coined by Bruce Sterling in 2005, but the concept is more often associated with Julian Bleeker’s 2009 essay, Design Fiction: A short essay on design, science, fact and fiction. Design fiction, as defined by Sterling, is the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change. In layman’s terms, design fiction has been described as “an approach to design that speculates about new ideas through prototyping and storytelling.”

A good example of successful design fiction is the Corning - A Day Made of Glass “commercial”. The reality presented in the video is the perfect mix of relatable activities and emotion with artefacts that introduce new technological possibilities. The interactions are so believable and organic with the narrative that while watching, you don’t question the feasibility of the artefacts. It is the truth in that story, and by watching, our minds open up to how that truth can become our reality.

Bruce Sterling said that, “Design fiction doesn't tell stories -- instead, it designs prototypes that imply a changed world.” While this is true, narrative plays a very important role in making design fiction successful. As described by Davis Levine in an article published by Digital Experience Design, there are three core aspects of design fiction: the use of narrative, the diegetic prototype, and the context. In order to effectually demonstrate new ideas through design fiction, each aspect needs to be thoughtfully addressed.

Here is a list of resources to start you on your design fiction fan journey:

Lindsay Schultz
Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.