How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Our Battery
IDEO.org Fellow Marika Shioiri-Clark provides a wrapup of the TEDx project and ruminates on the Gandhi Box that the team created.
It has been an intense two weeks, to say the least. After being tasked with designing and producing a prototype for TEDx in a Box—a stand-alone kit that an organizer anywhere in the world can use to set up a TEDx conference - we hit the ground running with interviews and countless brainstorming sessions. Now, as the project finishes, we have a full prototype that fits in a friendly lime green suitcase (affectionately called the Gandhi Box, after teammate Emily’s idea to name each box after a prominent world leader), and a short movie that we created to explain how the system works. In the end, we are excited and proud of the work we produced. Still, it’s helpful to reflect on our design and production process and extract a few lessons that we can use moving forward.
The biggest lesson for us was the need to be hyper-clear on what our deliverables are, and to discuss and re-discuss this with our client throughout the project. We began work on a huge set of experience-related components in our kit, only to realize down the line that the technology problem was really the most important challenge for TEDx. We changed course, ordering scores of PA systems, projectors, batteries, and DVD players, testing each to find the best combination of price and performance. In the end, we were able to reincorporate in a few of the experiential components to make a more holistic final set of materials, integrating an intuitive color coding system and designing a graphic quickstart guide for users, who may not speak English.
We also got some great feedback by posting an initial idea to use a car battery to power our entire system on a TEDx Google group. We realized that organizers in areas without regular access to electricity found the notion of having to source their own battery a bit daunting. Eventually we settled on a higher-tech lithium battery that could be included within the kit, making the system completely self-contained. The battery exploration was a long one, but in the end it was our commitment to be transparent with our ideas and to solicit feedback from end-users that proved most fruitful. Watch for our post in the near future with shots of our suitcase and a video explaining how to use it. Rock on, all you TEDx organizers and idea spreaders worldwide!