Graphic Design THINKING: Beyond Brainstorming

I am only 25% the way through this incredibly useful book edited by Ellen Lupton.  The initial chapters are organized in a section called "How to Define Problems" and are incredibly potent, short, and illustrative descriptions of techniques for methods for defining problems, as well as ideation.

The drawing above is a hybrid approach using the methods of mind mapping and what Ellen calls a brand matrix (an XY grid).  It illustrates various ways we could market our book "Innovate Products Faster" with the dimensions of time (discrete events versus continuous), and whether the approach is more sales/tactical, or marketing/strategic.  This was completed in under twenty minutes, and the boxes with two boarders are what I plan to do next.  The connecting lines are left off for clarity.

Ellen also describes these 9 techniques in her book:

  • Brainstorm (traditional group process without negative criticism)

  • Mind Map (Focus in the center, ideas connected to other ideas)

  • Interview (with guidelines for getting the best data from subjects)

  • Focus Group (again, with tips for getting the most out of focus groups)

  • Visual Research (web based, looking for inspiration - for example, blue logos)

  • Brand Matrix (XY grid of two important axes)

  • Brand Room (project war room)

  • Site Research (how to collect inspiration by visiting a related physical place)

  • Creative Brief (how to summarize the problem)

This book, put out by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011 is highly recommended for innovators and product developers.