Last month, Daniel Stillman and I had an opportunity to teach a class, “Design for Non-Designers,” at the Brooklyn Brainery. The class was essentially a design for non-designers workshop broken into a lecture session on the first night, and a group exercise around a simple brief on the second.

As people who use design every day, it was really compelling to hit the books and reevaluate the process as part of our preparation for the class. Our audience contained people who work in finance, the social sector, government, and start-ups: but not one single designer. So comparing different approaches (from Patrick Whitney’s method developed at IIT to David Gray’s Gamestorming) and pulling out all of the inaccessible design lingo not only helped us communicate with our audience, but made a few things gel for ourselves as well. Our synthesized, concise explanation of the design process is now back in the studio, being put to good use and driving us to experiment and improve on how we work.

A diagram was passed out at the beginning of the second session to guide the class through the steps of the design process in the hour and a half we had to work. Each of the four steps has an opening (divergent) and a closing (convergent) piece of the associated activity. Combining this technique with some serious timeboxing got us through the entire process and resulted in some amazing solutions from the groups. Who among us doesn’t want a beachside concierge service on our mobile phones?

If you’re in the New York Metro area and are interested in “accessible, community-driven, crowd sourced education” on very nearly any topic imaginable, be sure and take a look at the Brooklyn Brainery’s class list. You might even catch a redux of Design for Non-Designers!