The five W’s and unlimited potential

Post nine: Visual documentation of the brainstorming session
By Marie Good

Before I could work on developing a design proposal or situating my design statement in a decisive way, it was essential for me to firstly understand all the elements of my target audience involved. The following questions had to be asked, with my responses included below.


Consumers; the general public; particularly people with little knowledge of the foods they consume or people with a medium / strong interest, yet not qualified as a reliable source of information. It also affects the manufacturers and producers of foods.


There is a general lack of awareness or desire to be aware because of the complexity and boring structure of current information. Also potentially a lack of accessibility to information or healthy options.


Every time a consumer purchases or consumers. In shopping malls, supermarkets, cafes, their own kitchen etc.


When shopping, when hungry, when preparing food.


Nutritional information currently is not desirable to read. People would rather read an unreliable blog post or watch a reality cooking show than learn the fundamental chemistry of profile of nutrition.


After this, I was able to work on creating a design statement which I discussed with my peers. This discussion proved very helpful for myself, in understanding if what I was investigating made sense to others, instead of only myself. They even informed me of some areas I could look for information on my topic.

Next I took all the suggestions and feedback I had received and started brainstorming potential design solutions. The important part here was to think as big as I could and create ideas not limited to my own available resources for reality but the skills and funds featuring a more collaborative approach. I asked myself, if my own funding and skills were limitless, what could I achieve to create change. This thinking pattern created some very far-fetched, yet potentially extremely effective design solutions, as well as some more grounded and realistic ideas. In order to create some structure out of my chaotic jhand generated storm, I recreated this by computer intervention. The end map is pictured here below.


This process of collaboration was highly effective in this instance as the reactions of others and their feedback, enabled me to understand if my thinking made sense or was of value to those other than myself. Their suggestions for further research as well, allowed me to uncover more sources of information that hadn’t even crossed my mind.


POST 9: Visual documentation of the brainstorming session // Mental health


As I sat down in class with my issues group, I knew the inevitable was going to happen. As the butchers paper was yet again spread around the class, my eyes watered. The thought of mapping again put my head in a spin. But, to my surprise, we weren’t mapping. We were brainstorming….which is basically the same thing as mapping.

So, in our issue groups, we helped each other brainstorm possible design responses for each persons particular topic. This exercise helped flesh out my problem statement from earlier in class and also my specific area of interest within mental health, which I have explained further in POST 8. They suggested even more specific areas within my topic, possible conceptual ideas, and current design responses and directions that relate to my issue. This collective brainstorming discussion on each persons topic helped create new perspectives and directions for possible service, generative or data driven design responses.

Brainstorm 1

Brainstorm mind-map based on my particular problem statement – The disconnect experienced by patients affected by mental health issues in communication and interactions with health professionals.

The first brainstorm was on my problem statement, which I further explain in POST 8. My group and I discussed simplifying communication between patient and doctor in order to create a more comfortable dialogue. One of my group members also directed me to a current medical design response called Babybe which helps regulate the heartbeat of babies. This created another direction of providing care and guidance outside of healthcare for people suffering with mental health issues. This brainstorm provided me with a few avenues to delve into with possible design solutions.

Brainstorm 2

Second brainstorm based on ownership and control of our state of mind. 

The second brainstorm was based on the problem ownership and control of our state of mind. We collectively brainstormed ideas about analysis of habits and feelings experienced throughout a day, changing perspectives on situations and the importance of mindfulness. In this brainstorm, we began to break off our ideas into the areas of service, generative systems and data visualisation designs. We got more into the process with this mind-map and generated more ideas and discussion.

Brainstorm 3

Third brainstorm on proactive self help.

Our third brainstorm was based around the idea of proactive self help and mental wellbeing. Again, we categorised ideas into the three emergent practice areas at the bottom of the brainstorm. We came up with ideas such as a self help system/ tool kit, motivation diary and a happy graph. Interestingly, this brainstorm incorporated some drawing and sketching as well to better communicate ideas.


If you have been reading my blog posts consistently, you would know my view of mind mapping and brainstorming quite clearly by now. I find brainstorming in a group has its ups and downs. I found it helpful in fleshing out my specific topic and problem statement but when it came to actually brainstorming ideas, we often got stuck or went off track in our discussions. I also think I needed a better understanding of the three types of emergent practices (service design, generative systems and data visualisation) before mind-mapping ideas as I felt like I was flying blind. I think group brainstorming is a great starting point for creating ideas and gaining fresh insights, but it is ultimately always up to the individual to create a final design response. 

A Note on the Pros (and Cons) of Rapid Group Brainstorming

After weeks spent researching and mapping, both broadly and focused in on the issue of climate change and bird wildlife, it was time to start developing ideas about what aspect to visually represent and how. In order to hone in on one of these aspects, a rapid one hundred idea collaborative brainstorming method was introduced to us, where—as a team—we would fire away ideas in rapid succession, with the intent on getting to a sheet that held one hundred ideas.


  1. While slightly daunting at first, everyone soon got into the flow of rapid idea generation and many different idea avenues were explored and discussed in a short time period.
Mapping about humans affecting birds done by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong (2016).
  1. Unique ideas were put out. Talking about ideas allowed for some connections between elements to become known and strange and quirky ideas to form.
  1. Not worrying about the quality of the ideas meant that a lot of ideas could be generated.
Ideas were often fleshed out further by another team member. Mapping by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong (2016).
  1. Three heads are better than one. Our initial ideas were quite broad and unsure, but gained clarity and focus as we fleshed out each others’ ideas further.



  1. The churning out of ideas at such a fast rate meant that we quite often strayed off topic or forgot the central purpose of this brainstorming exercise.
  1. The brainstorming ideas process started off really strong, but energy and ideas started to lag by the time we were onto our third and final map.
Processed with VSCO with b5 preset
The quantity of ideas is significantly less by the time of the last mapping. Mapping done by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong (2016).
  1. I also found that I could brainstorm ideas for my own concept more readily than my team members’ ones because I could understand my concept better. Everyone having a firm understanding of each other’s issues would have made this method stronger.
  1. We never did get to one hundred ideas for any of our maps. I think the first twenty ideas were exciting and written down in the rush of the process, but after a while the process becomes quite staid and boring and people start to get idea block.



Of course, there will always be benefits and drawbacks to any method undertaken. This one hundred idea generation exercise was still overall very effective and opened up many possibilities for ideas that may not have been apparent in a solo brainstorming session or one that was more controlled.