demonstrable thinking

I would be curious to hear how people demonstrate or manifest thinking as a deliverable. In front of management, a client or in an interview. Charts? Graphs? one act plays? multi media ?

Also, Is a really good thought worth more or less than a really good rendering?

It’s something I have trouble with and need to figure how to show it as well. The right thought is more important than a pretty render but unfortunately, most people are easily swayed by the render. When a quality idea is put out, it’s quickly absorbed, yeah yeah, of course that’s the answer, then off to who can present it the best. The pretty render sells, once that’s out, people quickly forget the quality idea behind it and the renderer is seen as the most important element and has a nice portfolio piece and promotion in the company. The thinker behind the idea doesn’t have quite as much “tangible” proof of their very important contribution, especially in places like group brainstorm sessions where ideas are put out verbally. It’s quickly forgotten where those important seeds came from and that the seed was the most important element to make the rest of the product grow.
It seems along the same lines as ID pay vs marketing pay. They’d have nothing to market if not for us, our quality design makes their job of selling it easier, but they’re right next to the consumers money in the food chain, and thus are seen as more important by management and thus paid more since what they do brings in the money more directly.
An idea guides the render. The render sells the idea. The good thought is most important, you can always find a rendo-monkey to make it look nice. A good rendo is only that, it may trick some clients into buying a crappy design, but the bad thought behind it will eventually come to surface.
Both work hand in hand but quality thought and thinkers are most important, they’re just not as easily visible.
There should be a way to document the whole design workflow, beyond just the first word lists and sketches. The verbal stuff that goes along is important as well as the ideas that people say towards each others sketches and research analysis, design refinement critiques, etc.
The thinkers have to able to speak to the right people at the right time and make sure that they’re heard by the decision-makers instead of being filtered through others with better presentation skills or they’ll never be recognized as being valuable. I think it’s mostly verbal/ psychological. Convincing people you’re the one to talk to for input when choices have to be made or when strategizing.

from my experience, thinking is always attached to something else. i agree with skinny it can sometimes get psychological. it has to do with the background of the person/s you try to communicate with; not only professional but also personal.

thinking is always attached to something else

In my experience, this is true as well. As a designer, if I’m thinking, it’s about a physical object, (or at least a graphic one, or GUI). Therefore, the thinking can usually be shown in a visual manner: sketch, rendering, CAD, comps, illustrations, or diagrams.
Usually, the deliverable is not the literal ‘thinking’ (crude sketches), but rather an ‘executive summary’ outlining the various options explored (in ‘tidy’ sketches).

So usually, the contract will document what I WILL do (research, think, doodle, brainstorm, design) and the deliverable will be the fruits of my labor (nice sketches, renderings, mockups, prototpyes, CAD etc.)
…maybe not as interesting as ‘one act plays’ but gets the point across.

I’ve never done it, but seen a few(strategy related). It comes in all formats and there is no rule. I have seen scrapbooks, videos, presentation boards… basically, whatever it takes. Of course they come with a presentation.

What is to be communicate is inspiration. If the client receives the inspiration that you are trying to convey, then it’s job well done. Therefore, it’s hit or miss.

If the client is expecting the deliverables to be something physical or a report, then they really don’t know what they are looking for.

We have a variety of tools that we use for communicating the thinking behind the renderings, sketches, models, files, or other deliverables. Much of which is done before the design process in the form of trend shows which are organized by category or user.

We also find that giving the user a voice in the form of research or human factors is a good stable but I agree that it depends on the client, their background and their internal presentation requirements.

Probably the most consistantly effective tool we have used are brand positioning diagrams showing how different aesthetics, manufacturing processes and features work to create different positions with consumers.

Great answer. I think that these are future tools for the profession. Do you also have diagrams and charts, or a manifesto around your process?