Explore+Discover+Prototype: Innovating eService Design
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About

My experience applying the design thinking process to innovate service design.
Published:
Explore + Discover + Concept/Design
Innovating E-Service Design for Augmented Reality
This is a quick story about one of the toughest - and most rewarding - projects I had the opportunity complete during my Ross School of Business (Michigan) MBA experience. 
For the first time I found myself engaged in a problem-solving process that required a new kind of logic and a tolerance for ambiguity in both goals methods. I quickly realized that the design thinking success stories I had been reading in books and case studies left out a crucial element: that mindfully engaging in the user-centered research process is messy, uncomfortable, and frustrating - and successfully navigating the experience is not as easy as it seems!
And the assignment that sparked it all? Well, it simple on the first day of class:
], we framed the problem and developed a clear "Hunt" statement that would serve as a research guide. We then turned to ethnographic techniques such as Undercover Detective, Extreme User Watching, and Fly-On-The-Wall to develop hypotheses about latent needs that our technology could help solve.
In Phase 2 [
], we analyzed and synthesized our findings using Personas, Storyboards, Customer Journey Maps, SWOT Analysis, False Constraints, and Activity Maps. The results of this analysis enabled us to envision how our nascent technology could be used to solve the latent need identified in Phase one.

[Phases 1 and 2 overlapped significantly as the team attempted to simultaneously identify a latent need and define the feasible solution space represented by augmented reality technology. Lesson learned.]

Before moving to Phase 3 [
], the team could articulate how augmented reality technology could be used to solve a real human need in an innovative way. We then set about ideating how the technology would work. This process involved Visual Brainstorming, Mind Maps, Mockups, Rapid Prototyping, User Testing, and Feasibility Checks.

By the end of six weeks, the project team overcame the process challenges of the SID innovation process to develop an exciting and innovative augmented reality-based concept solution. The solution addressed a common pain point articulated by Gen-Y smartphone users - locating friends (or enemies) in real time in extremely dense, non-mappable population centers (think sporting events, rock festivals, or urban disaster zones). 

The project followed the E-Service Innovation Design (SID) Framework.
We considered Extreme Users and created an Affinity Diagram during the Explore and Discover phases to aid our synthesis processing.
A graph illustrating my feelings about our team progress, by week. 

Explanation: While I initially viewed the project with optimism, I quickly realized just how challenging it would be. After identifying a latent need during the Explore & Discover research, my optimism quickly returned. Later, user testing of our prototype generated additional insights and subsequent solution improvements, and by the project's final week I was considering quitting school to develop our new service concept as a startup venture!
Iterations of our lo-fi physical prototype of an early concept app.

Prototype hacked from foam core, transparency sheets, velcro tabs, index cards, sharpie markers, and tape.
By storyboarding the user experience, the team uncovered new markets for our concept
SWOT market analysis for the innovative E-Service concept in development
Our approach to prototype iteration.
A (very) brief visual history of wayfinding "technology" ...