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"Thursday Thinking"

©2019 by Weaving Futures. 

  • Carolyn Stuart

Thingish Things

One of my favourite quotes from AA Milne is when Winnie the Pooh says:

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you, is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it”

Like Pooh, I am sure we have all had the experience of ideas that felt great inside our heads but were less than ideal when you talked about them with others. Awkward I know, but it could be worse. What if you’d taken that seemingly great idea to full implementation, and only then found out that it wasn’t such a good one after all? This can and unfortunately does happen. But read on because this post will give you strategies to ensure that the only ideas you fully implement are ones that, to quote the indominatible Pooh, are ‘very Thingish’ in the open.

I have been writing a series of posts about how to create space for ideas to emerge in the organisations in which we work, and how to build space into our personal lives to allow time for our brilliance to surface. My last post Ideas that work discussed ways to ensure alignment between what users say they want and our personal professional knowledge and experience. It is now time to think about ways to take our ideas and turn them into solutions that people will love.

Value Maps

We uncover opportunities by taking our insights about what people need, and combining them with our professional knowledge and experience. Asking ourselves “What might...?” Or “How might…” will give us ideas to explore further. Once you have identified the most promising idea it is recommended that you validate it using a Value Map which I wrote about in my post “Is this a good idea or not?” (NB if you want a PDF copy of this map to use email me at [email protected])

Brainstorming Solutions

Once you are confident that your idea is a good one, your next step is to brainstorm as many different solutions as possible. It pays to grab others to help you and do not be afraid of crazy - as many final solutions start off as crazy ideas because they help you think differently.

There are lots of ways to run brainstorming sessions. I find it most effective to get people to work on their own for the first five minutes. I then get people to read out their solutions while placing the Post It notes on a shared wall space. Once all the individual notes are up I get the group to work together to keep coming up with more ideas.


  • One idea per post it note

  • Every idea is a great idea

  • The more ideas the better

  • Wacky, wild, and weird welcome

  • Share your ideas and then build on the ideas of others - and what if...

  • Finally pick the winner

Prototyping Winners

A big mistake lots of people make is to take what they believe is a winning solution and begin implementing it straight away. This is a very risky move, and usually results in great disappointment, as more often than not your solution that seemed (to quote Pooh) ‘very Thingish’ when you thought of it may not be as Thingish when other people start to use it. This can be very costly in terms of time and money.

But there is something you can do to increase the likelihood of coming up with a solution that people will like, and that is to Prototype your solution, test it on others and use their feedback to refine your solution. The process looks something like this:

When you are testing and refining a solution you are best to use a ‘low fidelity’ prototype. This is a simple representation of the solution that can be used to explain an idea to others. I find the best prototypes ‘tell a story’ from the User’s perspective (Pro tip: if you follow this advice it will stop you creating action plans rather than a prototype.)

Prototypes I find effective include:

  • “A day in the life of…” - a story or cartoon showing your solution in action

  • A Role Play of someone using your solution - this could be live or a video

  • A Journey Map - (think of the map from the Hobbit showing Bilbo’s journey)

  • A Physical Model

  • A Napkin Sketch - (something you would draw over dinner to explain an idea)

  • A storyboard.

Below are a couple of pictures of people sharing their low fidelity prototypes in a recent design thinking workshop I ran in Northland.

The first prototype is a journey map, the second a physical representation.

As you can see from the photos above prototyping does not need to be too complex or too time consuming. You’ll be amazed at how much the insights from others will improve your solutions.

Till next time


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