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Analysis + Synthesis

Analysis + Synthesis

The core design process class at the Institute of Design; students will learn a flexible and systematic approach for problem solving.

The tools and practices from this class are the ones I use most often at work. I still refer to the slides frequently.
—ID alum

Objective & Outcomes

The focus on methods has created the erroneous belief that in order to think like a designer you simply need to fill out a set of methods templates. The comprehensive problem-solving process (AKA design) is far more complex. This course will teach a three-phase process: 

  1. Start the process by thinking deeply about the issues involved (not the problem).
  2. Establish a point of view and a clear direction for moving forward. 
  3. Produce a detailed plan for the implementation of your intervention.

The process will act as a scaffolding for three levels of learning: design outcomes, ways of thinking, and specific practices.

  • Design outcomes: what we build, the consequences, and the results of the process. 
  • Ways of thinking: how we think, the modes and approaches we use to achieve the design outcomes. 
  • Specific practices: what we do, the techniques and tools used during the process.

After completing this course, students will demonstrate:

  • Command of a rigorous but flexible process that can be applied to most design problems 
  • Demonstrated proficiency in producing intended design outcomes 
  • Dexterity of thinking: from strategy to implementation details 
  • Ability to select and apply appropriate practices during a design project

Typical Schedule

  • Session 1: Conduct Research
  • Session 2: Clustering & Building Frameworks
  • Session 3: Coding Data
  • Session 4: User Needs to Specs
  • Session 5: Agile / User Stories
  • Session 6: Systems
  • Session 7: Quantitative Reasoning
  • Session 8: How Might We & Design Principles
  • Session 9: Brainstorming Methods
  • Session 10: Systemic Exploration
  • Session 11: Concept Systems
  • Session 12: Decision Making
  • Session 13: Experiments & Prototyping