A6: Submit Preliminary Proposal

Teams formed through discussion and ideation on key problem areas facing the San Diego region. Your team created multiple concept storyboards and authored a set of questions to guide the feedback process. In this assignment, your team will collect design feedback from in-person speed-dating and online peers, experts, and other community members. Your team will then write a preliminary proposal that summarizes the key insights from your feedback and synthesizes all of these perspectives into a preliminary team proposal. The goal here is to revise and expand A4’s Problem Report to now include a proposed solution.

Learning goals

  • Facilitating rapid feedback interviews around storyboards (speed-dating)
  • Providing high-quality feedback for other teams
  • Reflecting on alternatives and making choices on your storyboard ideas based on feedback
  • Formulating a preliminary team proposal that will be developed this quarter.


  • Davidoff, 2007, Rapidly Exploring Application Design through Speed Dating.

What to do

Revise and prepare to get feedback: Every team must address feedback from Prof. Dow and the TAs on your storyboards and questions. This input will focus both on improving the concepts and on improving the communicative value of your storyboards to assure you have the best chance for feedback.

Present concepts and conduct "speed dating" interviews in class (on Feb 11 and 13). During class in week 6, teams will hang printed design materials on the wall, including their storyboards, stakeholder value exchange diagrams, lists of constraints/resources, and any relevant field research. Experts in mobility will visit class on those days and will rotate between the teams to provide feedback. Your team should be prepared to conduct multiple “speed dating” sessions to get feedback on your storyboards.

Here’s how each “speed dating” session (~15 minutes total) should work:

  1. Choose a team member to give a brief <5-minute introduction about your problem area, using your design materials on the wall as a point of reference.
  2. Go through your team’s feedback survey with peers as well as the guests invited to the class. Have one team member read the storyboards and questions out loud. Have another team member write down the key points expressed by the interviewee. You can transcribe the interviewee’s responses directly in your team’s Speed Dating survey or you can take notes elsewhere.
  3. Since this is a semi-structured interview, you should feel free to diverge from the questions and concepts in your Speed Dating survey. That is, you should interact with your feedback provider to dig deeper into the issues. Practice active listening and ask follow-up questions, even if they significantly diverge from your original questions.
  4. Conclude the interview by asking the interviewee to reflect on the complete set of storyboards and to ask for their overall impressions/priorities for the problems and solutions you presented to them.
  5. Thank the person for their time and help them find their next interview!

Later we will give more details about how we will setup the space and how people will rotate on these two days. You can plan on conducting semi-structured interviews with 1-2 experts, 1-2 teaching staff, 1-2 peers on each day in Week 6. Each interview should be 10-15 minutes, giving you time for ~5 interviews per day. Each session will be an opportunity to keep iterating on your ideas and storyboards. We expect you to bring in new storyboards each day of class!

Prepare to get feedback online: By Thursday Feb 13th at midnight, each team must create three final storyboards for the online "speed dating" exercise. Fill out the information at this link: tinyurl.com/DSGN100-A6

Here’s what you will need:

  • A title statement: your overall How Might We statement
  • An introduction paragraph
  • A list of stakeholders
  • Three storyboards (3-4 frames with typed captions)
  • Title summary for each storyboard
  • Questions for three audiences (peers, experts, users) for each storyboard

Why? For one, feedback is key to focusing on the right problems and to refining your ideas. This is an opportunity to get input from people who could not visit the classroom. For two, our research team wants to understand the effectiveness and barriers of this design method where we post multiple ideas online for feedback from a broader community. Your participation here is helping with science!

What’s next? On Friday the teaching staff will create an online forms for each team that uses a standard template to assure quality. Once you receive your team’s Speed Dating survey, each team member should make an effort to share this link with any key contacts or organizations in your stakeholder diagram. Each teammate should aim to send this form out to at least 4-5 people and ask for feedback by class time on Tuesday Feb 18th. If you approach people for the first time, you may need to explain the context around why and what you’re doing, perhaps using these email templates as a starting point. In the meantime, the teaching staff will also be working hard to recruit experts to fill out each team’s Speed Dating survey.

You do not need to share your team’s Speed Dating survey with peers in the class. The teaching staff will assign two teams to each student to provide peer feedback as described in the next paragraph.

Provide peer feedback on other teams: Each student must complete the Speed Dating survey for two other teams assigned to you by the teaching staff. Your TAs will send you links to provide feedback on two other teams. Please complete your peer reviews by class time on Tuesday Feb 18th.

Tips for being a good feedback provider:

  • Be clear and specific. Nothing is worse than vague feedback. Make sure you describe your feedback precisely what it applies to and explain it.
  • Stay objective. When giving feedback, always describe what you are understanding, rather than your opinion as it relates to your personal taste. For example, rather than saying, “I don’t like this,” it is more constructive to say, “I think a shortcoming of the solution is that people could be distracted by … ”.
  • To soften the blow of negative feedback, try presenting it as a feedback sandwich. Start by explaining something you like. Then move on to any area that you have concerns about. Lastly, follow up with praise again to end on a positive note.

Reflect on your feedback and overall design direction:

After class on Feb 18th, you will receive your team’s online feedback. As part of TA Lu Sun’s research project, we will ask each student to independently fill out a short Feedback Assessment where you will read and rate feedback, and provide your opinions on the feedback processes we are exploring in this class. Each teammate should fill out the Feedback Assessment survey as soon as possible. Then get together with your team to discuss next steps. As a team, make some choices about what specific problem you aim to address and how. Consider the following questions:

  • What is your team's mission and what is your unique approach to reaching this goal?
  • What idea(s) seems most promising to pursue at this point?
  • What are the most relevant/valid critiques against this concept?
  • What is the biggest open question that could impede the success of your concept?
  • How can you create a prototype that addresses/tests this open question?

Write a preliminary team proposal:

Finally, for your A6 preliminary team proposal, the goal should be two-fold:

  1. Iterate on your Problem Frame (including updating your How Might We statement, refining your stakeholder value exchange diagram, and adding knowledge about constraints and resources). Summarize and synthesize the feedback from your multiple speed dating sessions to justify your choices. Think of this as a version 2 of your problem frame (A4).
  2. Propose a specific solution to address your problem. Select one concept or merge concepts into a final updated storyboard to describe how the solution addresses the challenge. Also, write a few paragraphs to give more details about your proposal and to reflect on these key points:
      • Is your proposal for a product, service, policy, or some other kind of initiative? What does this mean in terms of creating a prototype to test your concept?
      • How might this proposed solution get initial funding to get off the ground? Is it potentially funded by entrepreneurial, civic-oriented, or philanthropic resources? Who are the specific groups that you would need to align with to take the next step on this idea?
      • What are all the potential downfalls, impediments, and implementation challenges? Which one of these poses the biggest risk for the success of a project?
      • How do you anticipate creating a prototype to evaluate the risks and potentials associated with this concept?

Your A6 preliminary proposal should be a professional looking document (no longer than 6 pages) that includes major sections to describe the problem and solution. Include sub-sections under each for the key information/questions and weave in data, figures, images as needed to create a compelling proposal. Your final storyboard can take up one page of your proposal.


  1. Revised storyboards by class time on Tuesday Feb 11th
  2. Conduct in-person speed dating in class on Tuesday Feb 11
  3. Revised storyboards by class time on Thursday Feb 13th
  4. Conduct in-person speed dating in class on Thursday Feb 13
  5. Iterate, refine, and select three storyboards for online feedback (submit materials to this Form) by midnight on Thursday Feb 13th
  6. Online feedback (forms will be sent to each team on Feb 14th):
    • Recruit stakeholders to give feedback on your team’s Speed Dating survey (by class time on Feb 18th)
    • Submit online feedback for two other teams assigned to you by the instructors (by class time on Feb 18th)
    • Fill out the Feedback Assessment survey (by class time on Feb 20th)
  7. Submit your team’s preliminary proposal, which should include any refinements/updates to your chosen problem frame, summarizing your feedback from speed dating, and proposing a solution with key considerations. Submission instructions:
    • Include in your proposal: a title, your team name, and all team member’s full names. Always include citations and links to your own work in case anyone wants to find additional details.
    • Submit the proposal as a PDF (on both Canvas for grading and on Slack for sharing to the channel #DSGN160-prelim-proposals)
    • Proposals due by class time on Tuesday Feb 25th

Grading rubric

This rubric covers both the written scenarios and storyboards in A5, as well as the Speed Dating feedback process and preliminary team proposal for A6. Grades will be based on a 15-pt scale (15% of course grade) based on the following:

Scenarios and Storyboards (5%)

  • Did the team’s scenarios and storyboards as a whole represent a diverse set of problems and proposed solution concepts?
  • Did the team’s written scenarios create fictional situations that highlight key challenges faced by stakeholders and describe possible solution paths?
  • Do the storyboards clearly communicate the context, problem, solution, and resolution for each scenario?
  • Did the team highlight the main problem and potential solution in the title for each storyboard?
  • Is it easy to read/interpret the text and sketches? Are they legible?

Feedback exchange (gathering, providing, and synthesizing) (5%)

  • Are the questions authored by the team for each storyboard open-ended, thoughtful and diverse?
  • Did the team make a concerted effort to get online feedback for their concepts? Is there a sufficient amount of feedback?
  • Did each student provide peer feedback on their assigned teams? Is each student’s peer feedback specific, actionable, and justified?
  • Did the team do an effective job of organizing and making sense of the feedback they receive on their concepts?
  • Did the team work together to synthesize the next direction for their project?

Preliminary team proposal (5%)

  • Does the team work to refine their description of the key problem area? Is the described problem realistic, evidence-based, and compelling?
  • Did teams effectively summarize the key insights from Speed Dating feedback and how it informed their understanding of the problem, stakeholders, and potential solutions?
  • Is the team’s proposed solution compelling, practical, and potentially implementable?
  • Is the refined storyboard clear and effective as a communication tool?
  • Does the team include details and reflections that demonstrate thoughtful consideration of where this design is headed and how it could be funded and implemented?