Surfacing Intuition for Creative Collaboration

My capstone for the University of Washington's MHCI+D program was a 3-month collaboration with Seattle's Artefact Design Group. Myself and three other masters students researched and designed solutions in response to the following question: How can creative teams leverage non-rational styles of thought?

My Role

Product Designer


June 2015 - August 2015

10k' Insights is a SaaS product designed and developed by Artefact Group, a Seattle design firm. It's stated goal is to serve as, "a virtual war room for every design project". A variety of collaborative structured thinking exercises organize the artifacts of creative projects and allow teams to compare and discuss their ideas in the cloud. Their challenge to us was to imagine additions to this service which would capture and leverage the non-rational styles of thought endemic to creative work. The tools they had were good at logic. The tools they wanted were good at feeling.

My first goal was to dive into the research surrounding creative decision-making. I greatly enjoyed and benefited from Daniel Kahneman's, "Thinking Fast and Slow", which describes a dual process theory of cognition in which one part of the brain handles complex, analytical thinking and the other handles more essential, more impulsive modes of thought. The analytical mind, in the model Kahneman references, is responsible for our conscious thought, allows for rational operation and works slowly, sequentially. System 1, on the other hand—the intuitive mind—works outside of our awareness, processes massive quantities of information and produces pre-conscious, seemingly automatic responses. This part of the brain seemed a likely vector for targeting the ineffable qualities of creative work.

I worked with my team to develop a conceptual scaffold for building experiences which would augment rational though by prompting and attempting to capture intuition. In the existing 10k' product a user would proceed through three stages of work on a given project: Explore, Analyze and Decide. Our system layered onto this model the following stages: Orient, Align, Extend. After exploring a space, as is the practice in divergent thinking, groups must then orient around a common purpose in order to evaluate their findings. After analyzing a set of candidate designs, teams must then align around their most vital criteria. After deciding on a path forward, teams can and should extend the value of that decision by archiving it and making it accessible in the future.

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