We came up with a Design Process Model called NIRD – a Non-obtrusive way to Integrate Reflection into Daily practice. This was a collaboration with Anna Eaglin, Chris Basham, and Xiying Wang.

The Problem

According to Donald Schön, being reflective about the decisions you make as a designer helps a person understand why they do what they do, and it also helps them build a repertoire that will aid when encountering new design situations.

However, we found from our primary research that designers understand the value of reflection, but do not reflect because of three main issues:

  • They are not sure when to reflect
  • They are not sure how to reflect
  • They are not sure what to reflect upon

Based on the issues uncovered, we created our solution that had designers reflecting five times a day via short activities.

  • When: Morning, before lunch, during lunch, after lunch, and at the end of the day (five set times).
  • How: Blog post, twitter, text message, post-it note, sketch, video commentary, etc.
  • What: The current project.

Testing this method ourselves, we found that it did not work for the following reasons:

  • The when was too structured and did not allow for flexibility
  • The how was too varied and provided too many options
  • The what was too specific; Often projects can move slowly and we found we were struggling to come up with things to reflect upon

In order for our model to be successful, the following changes were integrated:

  • The when is flexible
  • The what is any event in your life
  • The how is a specific activity

Based on our insights, we created a Non-obtrusive way to Integrate Reflection into Daily practice (NIRD).

Using a pen and a post-it note, the designer keeps a log of any event in their day (personal or professional) in the form of a mind map that grows throughout the day. Then, at the end of the day, an overall reflection can be written on the back of the Post-It.

This final incarnation of the model has a very low barrier to entry, is quick and simple, and the materials are ready at hand. The Post-Its can be kept within a notebook or sketch book, daily planner, or organized in many other ways.

We also found this model is flexible enough to allow people to incorporate it into their lives in many different ways. Below are four variations: