Saturday 19 June 2021

The Double-Diamond Model of Design

Designers often start by questioning the problem given to them: they expand the scope of the problem, diverging to examine all the fundamental issues that underlie it. Then they converge upon a single problem statement. During the solution phase of their studies, they first expand the space of possible solutions, the divergence phase. Finally, they converge upon a proposed solution (Figure 6.1). This double diverge-converge pattern was first introduced in 2005 by the British Design Council, which called it the double-diamond design process model. 
The Double-Diamond Model of Design. Start with an idea, and through the initial design research, expand the thinking to explore the fundamental issues. Only then is it time to converge upon the real, underlying problem. Similarly, use design research tools to explore a wide variety of solutions before converging upon one. (Slightly modified from the work of the British Design Council, 2005.)

The Design Council divided the design process into four stages: “discover” and “define”—for the divergence and convergence phases of finding the right problem, and “develop” and “deliver”—for the divergence and convergence phases of finding the right solution. The double diverge-converge process is quite effective at freeing designers from unnecessary restrictions to the problem and solution spaces. But you can sympathize with a product manager who, having given the designers a problem to solve, finds them questioning the assignment and insisting on travelling all over the world to seek deeper understanding. Even when the designers start focusing upon the problem, they do not seem to make progress, but instead develop a wide variety of ideas and thoughts, many only half-formed, many clearly impractical. All this can be rather unsettling to the product manager who, concerned about meeting the schedule, wants to see immediate convergence. 

To add to the frustration of the product manager, as the designers start to converge upon a solution, they may realize that they have inappropriately formulated the problem, so the entire process must be repeated (although it can go more quickly this time). This repeated divergence and convergence is important in properly determining the right problem to be solved and then the best way to solve it. It looks chaotic and ill-structured, but it actually follows well-established principles and procedures. How does the product manager keep the entire team on schedule despite the apparently random and divergent methods of designers? Encourage their free exploration, but hold them to the schedule (and budget) constraints. There is nothing like a firm deadline to get creative minds to reach convergence. 

Extracted from The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

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