What Bugs You?  Opportunities Might Be Hiding in Your Biggest Annoyances

As you go through your day, you likely have annoyances.  We all do. What if you kept track of things that bug you?  The goal here isn’t to overly focus on the negative, but often times opportunities are hidden in these annoyances. Identifying a point of friction, when reframed, can be an incredible opportunity for a design thinker who is armed and ready to tackle problems. This is a strategy that works across all ages. As shared by Tom & David Kelley in Creative Confidence, adults and students alike can create and keep “Bug Lists” which is as simple as it sounds, a running list of things that “bug” you.  We have seen teachers create a “What Bugs You?” wall in their classrooms where students can place sticky notes or record the things that may be getting in their way of learning at school, then pull these ideas for design sprints, helping students see that within every problem, there lies an opportunity for innovation.

Almost every annoyance, every point of friction, hides a design opportunity.  Instead of just complaining, ask yourself, “How might I improve this situation?
— David Kelley, Author of Creative Confidence

Normally when utilizing design thinking we focus on designing for someone other than ourselves but this doesn’t mean you can’t apply the design thinking process and mindsets to take care of something that bugs you as well.  A 12-year old girl from Connecticut recently turned her hospital annoyance into a new solution that not only solved her problem but will also help other kids undergoing treatments. Ella, who has an autoimmune disease, started spending considerable amounts of time at the hospital for treatments starting at the age of seven and was frightened by the IV hanging bag and machine.  Instead of just accepting the annoyance for what it was, Ella had an idea to cover the IV bag with a teddy bear making the entire machine appear less scary. This idea has turned into the Medi-Teddy, an online business that Ella is now running in the hopes of helping other children have friendlier stays in the hospital. 

We could all take some inspiration from Ella and do something about our annoyances. The summer offers many opportunities to test out the “bug list” outside of your normal work routine, whether you are traveling or spending more time with family you are bound to find things that bug you.  Try creating your own “bug list” and see if you can’t find some opportunities hiding in your list. I’d love to hear what ends up on your bug list, share on twitter using #DT4EduLeaders.