The first UX-oriented design methodology that I ever engaged in was a Lean Startup Methodology workshop in 2014 where we tested our hypothesis about problems by conducting user interviews of campus stakeholders, building a persona, designing a scratch product, and testing that product within three days.
From 2014-2019 I was fortunate to teach students significant number of Jewell students concurrently working projects associated with the Stanford d. School through generous grants from the Kauffman Foundation, which began to inspire students towards iterative design thinking approaches in the classroom. Post-It notes, Sharpies, and design-inspired workshops became becoming irreplaceable teaching tools. I utilized an IDEO Framework on CardTrick, a simple way to make awesome flashcards in Google Docs.
Part of my personality is eager to embrace an iterative process that acknowledges the jumbled mess of design— the old joke is that the graph of a "design process" looks more like a scribble. I have deployed the Double Diamond Framework on more long-term projects. For me, the core difference between the way I use a Double Diamond Framework and the previous two methods is the length of the project. The Double Diamond is a really neat framework for long-term projects with a massive research scope to start. For example, when I was working on Tassel, I had a hard time not just getting stuck in the research phase— I had to force myself towards pivot points where I needed to move towards narrowing the research and situating it within the correct problem and solution. How I handled those expansion/narrowing pivot points in the double-diamond model meant everything to the Tassel project over the course of the year I worked on the problem of college choice and regret.
It's free and effective. If you sell a software solution, nothing is stopping your sales team from cold calling random schools and literally making up products to see how they react. During the Tassel project, I learned in just one day that calling leaving an admissions counselor a message that says you can "guarantee warm email leads on 8,000 high school students at a cost of less than $1 per student," will receive a same-day return phone call from almost all post-secondary Admissions Offices in Kansas City. You could never get away with that kind of research in academia. The Institutional Review Board would light you on fire. UX research experience is often able to gain credible insights using very few resources, in very little time. Guerilla UX and CX research can often supply insights with which traditional academic research or more traditional methods of user/customer engagement absolutely cannot compete.
I like physical stuff. I think wireframes should be drawn by hand well before you ever sit down at a computer to start building frames and containers. I have a strong tactile preference towards stencils, pencils, markers, and dry erase boards. I have auditory preferences towards minimally disruptive timers or loud noise in the workplace, so noise-cancelling headphones are a must for me if I need to zone-in on digital work.
But that doesn't mean I like to work alone. Working "alone, together" is optimal for those of us who were previously sentenced to fidget-toy-as-ADHD-meeting-accommodation. In a workshop or other sprint design exercise, there are agreed-upon rules. So, iff I need to catch a vibe or walk around for a second, I can do that without bothering anyone else.
When possible, I like to honor this method both physically and digitally. Prior to COVID, one of my favorite activities was design sessions literally in public at the Jazz Museum or River Market. But I also believe in the practice of sharing resources whenever possible. In a modern office environment, I try to honor these methods by using tools that keep my team in the loop, where my work can be visible and constantly accountable. It means having synchronized design assets that are well organized and kept by folks as detail-oriented as I am.
All design is cooperative. The word "use" as a verb implies an object in the sentence, which guarantees that the action is cooperative, it might be a failed action, but design is inherently cooperative. In some ways, to practice really great design, you might need to radically re-think things. Take for example of a modern branding and design agency. There might be a PR team, a marketing team, a branding team, a product team, a media buying team, and so on. The success of the whole requires that organizations not be siloed. Unless you're a solo-shop, you're never doing anything within your organization completely alone, so it's best to view every act of design cooperatively.
You can't let your scholarship or your politics hijack your reality. Just like you can't stay siloed at work, you can't stay isolated in design pedagogy and practice. Industry gatekeepers in the subfields of Software Development, Web Design, UX/UI, Human Factors Design, Design Thinking, Human-Computer Interaction, and Entrepreneurship like to think that they have it all figured out and that their part is the most important. They don't. It's not. It's all very important. Diverse teams with people that have totally different backgrounds bring new perspectives and valuable interdisciplinary insights. A great example of this was the Tassel project. I spent the first 75% of the project documenting tons of research about the Department of Education, the Higher Ed recruitment industry, the software support industry that surrounds higher ed, and the rate at which so-called non-profits sell kids data to colleges and universities. It was all research structured around the broader problem I was considering. I can tell you it would be irreplaceable wisdom were I to reset the project and take another shot at a solution.