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Design Swarms Methodology

The foundation for design swarms focuses on the human spirit. Simply put, this approach assumes that all lives are equal and every human being can make an impact. Most importantly, we also assume that everyone is capable of being creative.

Why does this matter? Simply put, we tend to think that “creatives” are a small minority. Furthermore, people who identify as “not creative” tend to think that they can’t contribute to the design process. Conversely, the design swarms process turns these assumptions completely upside-down and approaches design from a whole new angle.

At its core, swarm creativity uses the power of design thinking to build the overall approach. In other words, the outcome of design swarms is always solution-oriented. However, the engagement model is completely different and democratizes the design process to engage with a wider audience.

For example, swarm creativity takes the design thinking model and turns it into an interactive platform.

Specifically, each step utilizes gamification to enhance participants’ ability to contribute. As a result, this process empowers people of all backgrounds and skillsets to participate in a process that is normally kept behind the scenes.

Said differently, you can think about this design platform as a universal “Lego kit” that anyone can use. Unlike typical design processes, every interaction is rapid-fire and fun. Simply put, people don’t have time to think or question what they’re doing. Instead, this process enables creativity to flow freely without constraint.

Ultimately, people make all the difference in the design process. Most importantly, a broad cross-section of people from many backgrounds will give design teams the necessary creative power to produce great products. Too often, design teams are insular and keep to themselves. However, these teams end up “talking to themselves” and do not come up with meaningful solutions.

In the end, diverse groups of people enable product design to attack problems from a number of angles. Furthermore, the power of creative swarms is the opportunity to unleash the “inner design thinker” in everyone. Most importantly, you need a platform that can enable these interactions and capture the broad cross-section of insights from your participants. Remember that design at its best is not invisible – it’s an interactive process that should be available to all.

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About the speaker
Surya Vanka Authentic Design, Founder Member

Surya Vanka is the Founder of Authentic Design - a firm that utilizes the “design swarms” theory to create unique product solutions for customers. Prior to starting Authentic Design, Surya worked for more than 15 years at Microsoft in many UX leadership roles - introducing the design thinking process to the company and pioneering the company’s first-ever Hackathon event. Prior to joining Microsoft, Surya was a design professor at the University of Illinois. Surya holds a degree from The Ohio State University and currently lives in Seattle.

About the host
Don Woods Envoy, Product

I build products that challenge the status quo of the workplace experience. I'm also a writer, podcaster, and mentor to college CS students.

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