Perfectionism & the Fear of Failure.

I just handed in my revised project proposal. It has changed quite a bit since last Wednesday; the topic has changed to perfectionism and the anxiety that comes with the fear of failure, the target audience has changed to university students, and the presentation has changed to a more sophisticated style (not a pre-made template).

Project aim slide from my revised presentation:

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I decided to focus on “perfectionism” because when I thought more about anxiety (particularly public speaking anxiety) and the underlying feelings, I realized that what is often at the heart of it all is the worry of making a mistake/failing and looking like a stupid.

Changing my target user to university students I did partly out of convenience, but also because public speaking anxiety is still prevalent in post-secondary students and I see it constantly (also in myself). And I think these students could benefit from a solution even more than high school students because once they graduate from university the next step in life is finding a permanent job — and giving job interviews, formal presentations, and contributing ideas during meetings and conference calls is a required ability to have.

In summary I am liking the direction I am heading in, and am looking forward to the next stages of the project.

Week 4 – Presentation.

Overall I felt my presentation was strong, that I did a decent job presenting the information, and received helpful feedback.

Project aim slide from my presentation:

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The takeaways I got from the feedback I received on my presentation was:

  1. My project aim needs to be more specific (consider the connection between online and in person classes)
  2. I should consider collaborating with a psychologist or specialist to help guide my project
  3. I need to think about how I will get user testing done with my target audience in future stages of the project

Although the feedback was very insightful it also makes me feel even more stressed, but I think I just need to sit down and really think about the problem I am trying to solve. I have until next Monday to refine my project. Wish me luck!

Meeting with Job.

I just had a 1 on 1 meeting with Job (Prof.) to discuss my design problem statements and general project framing, and to see if I am on the right track — I have to present my project proposal on Wednesday. I started by telling Job about my experience with anxiety in high school, and why the topic of mental health interests me.

When it came to my project aim, he said it is too broad and need to be defined more. So then we went through a brainstorming exercise to look at the different causes of anxiety in high school i.e., tests, exams, fitting in, public speaking, etc., and narrow in on a specific problem. We also talked about the differences between public speaking in an online class vs in person and if one was easier than the other (the comparison could be a possible thesis topic).

Here is what the process of brainstorming looks like:

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Takeaways:

  1. Post more sketches or hand drawn diagrams to blog (don’t just use Mural)
  2. Refine thesis project aim (define a specific problem and user)

Framing cont.

As I’ve mentioned already, I’ve been having a tough time deciding on a topic for my thesis project as I was drawn to both the areas of health and sustainability. But I think I have finally done it!

I looked at the four W’s for both of the topics and the respective questions that I had made, and thought what am I interested and passionate about more. And that is… mental health.

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Understanding framing.

Since Monday’s exercise with my group, I have been a little worried about how I want to frame my project and how I am going to do it. But after reading Jordan Devos’s article Design Problem Statements – What They Are and How to Frame Them I feel I now have a bit more understanding to tackle my situation (see: https://www.toptal.com/designers/product-design/design-problem-statement).

This particular section of the article I found particularly instructive:

The Final Problem Statement

This is a simple but really effective way to bring focus to the insights you’ve uncovered and the ultimate problem you can frame. The design problem statement structure template is like a page from MadLibs, a sentence with blank spaces to fill with your insights. It creates a concise statement rooted in your team’s collective thinking. It’s important to keep the statement specific enough so there is a shared vision for the product, but broad enough to allow for creativity and new insights.

Here are a few design problem statement example formats:

  • From the point of view of the user: “I am (persona) trying to (verb) but (barrier) because (cause) which makes me feel (emotional reaction).
    • e.g., “I am a new mum trying to take care of my baby in the best way possible, but I don’t know if I’m doing a good job because I’m always at home alone and don’t have anyone to talk to about it, which makes me feel isolated and alone.”
  • Drawn from user research: “(Persona) needs a way to (user’s need) because (insight).
    • e.g., “New mums need a way to connect with other mums because they are often at home alone during the day and feel isolated and alone.”
  • Using the 4 Ws: “Our (who) has the problem that (what) when (where). Our solution should deliver (why).
    • e.g., “Our new mum has the problem that she has no one to talk to about the best way to care for her baby when she is at home alone every day. Our solution should deliver a way for her to feel connected to other mums so she feels less isolated and alone.”

I am going to try these examples that Jordan suggests and see if I make any headway.

Week 3 – Framing exercise.

For today’s framing exercise we worked with Usman’s question “How will AI and machine learning adapt to make peoples lives easier in the future.” Because we hadn’t worked with Usman’s question during the STEEPV exercise last week, I think we were a little unsure how to approach the situation at first.

What ended up happening was 1) it became clear that his question seemed to be posing a solution not a problem, and 2) our solutions i.e. our framing examples all ended up relating to the aging population which wasn’t what Usman actually wanted.

So in doing todays exercise I’ve learned that framing needs to be very specific and that I really need to make sure I am developing a project that I am interested in by honing in on the details i.e. who am I designing for, what is the actual problem, and why does it matter!

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