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Our approach: the design process

The common law claim process is complex. It involves many stakeholders with sometimes conflicting needs and objectives. Developing solutions is therefore not simple. WorkCover is interested in looking to different approaches to develop possible solutions that will improve the experience of the common law process for people involved. Adopting design philosophies is one of the possible approaches.

At the University of Queensland, the Interaction Design Research Group, uses design methodologies to develop technology that delivers real value to people. They explore the application of design methodologies to different contexts and problems to develop solutions that truly meet people's needs, not only in terms of interaction but also to ensure the delivery of value.

The process we adopted for this project has been informed by: Design Thinking, and Human-Centred Design.

In recent years, Design Thinking has become popular as a method to address problems in varied contexts, ranging from product design, app development and service re-design. And people have applied Design Thinking in different ways. To some extent, it has become commoditised and distilled down to a simplified series of steps that are just followed. Whilst this approach certainly can be effective, when it comes to the more complex or wicked problems, a different approach is required.

“I view design thinking as a way of seeing and connecting potential into meaningful relationships (Read that sentence again before you go any further). It’s about observation and asking lots of “why” questions in order to understand the bigger picture of what is actually happening versus what we think or assume is happening. Design thinking tries new things, fails, learns and then adapts quickly to achieve a stated human need.”

– Jeffrey Bell in The Commoditization of Design

A key concept in Design thinking that is often overlooked, is the need for good design research focused on the people involved. This understanding, especially for complex processes, is critical to the effectiveness of the design process. This video highlights this, albeit somewhat simplistic.

A key step in the design process is making sense from chaos. It involves a process of "abductive thinking and sensemaking". This quote provides some explanation of the processes involved:

“The user research sessions will produce pages of verbal transcript, hundreds of pictures, and dozens of artifact examples. Because of the complexity of comprehending so much data at once, the designer will frequently turn to a large sheet of paper and a blank wall in order to "map it all out." Several hours later, the sheet of paper will be covered with what to a newcomer appears to be a mess—yet the designer has made substantial progress, and the mess actually represents the deep and meaningful sensemaking that drives innovation. The designer will have identified themes, and will better understand the problem he or she is trying to solve.”

– John Kolko in Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis

This video provides a good explanation of the issues with applying Design Thinking to a complex process such as the Common Law claim process. It's a bit self-promoting in terms of Don Norman's "Design-X" project, but listen around that.

Therefore, when it comes to describing the process adopted by this project, we really cannot provide a full description at this stage. At each stage of the process, we need to make sense of the information that has been obtained first. Only then can the next stages be determined.

This project is also concerned with research into how design methods can be applied to complex environments to address complex problems.

One key thing that we would like to make clear is: design is not [just] about making things look "pretty". In some contexts that may be relevant. But in many contexts it is not. Design is about real solutions that deliver value for people. Here's a good starting point: What is design and why it matters.

Last updated
25 October 2018

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