There’s a commonality for designers, whether a product designer or a teacher designing a course. It’s this: Sometimes, even though you know what you want to accomplish, you don’t know how to get there.
This typically builds a lot of unnecessary pressure into the design process. Design isn’t ever easy, but there’s a simpler way to map the way forward if we’re willing to take a lesson from an unlikely source . . .
The bat. 🦇
Bats use a technique called echolocation to map their surroundings at night when they can’t see. Basically, they make chirping sounds and listen for echoes off solid objects.
But it gets more interesting.
Because they receive so many echoes in response to their chirps, they have “to differentiate relevant information from signal clutter.” I learned that from this great SciToons video.
The video explains how bats avoid signal clutter like this:
I think bats can teach us something about designing a product or course here. When things seem hazy, it’s beneficial to spend more time listening to customers and learners and letting their feedback inform the next steps for your design.
In the process, you may have to start ignoring the “high intensity” feedback in pursuit of the gems. Just because some feedback from a customer or learner is loudest in the group, doesn’t mean they speak on behalf of what’s best for the majority (e.g. A learner requesting a time change that’s an inconvenience for the rest of the class).
Whether you’re designing a product or you’re a teacher designing a course, you can use echolocation to map your way forward through the haze.