Despite having some practice, my second design challenge, with A, was not as easy as I thought it would be. There were a lot of moving parts to A's commute and I asked exhaustive questions about solutions that he had already thought about, or tried out.
In a nutshell, A is between living situations and his things are spread out; he often doesn't know which location he'll be heading out from each morning. Mainly, he has to carry around a lot of items, such as clothing and school supplies, which need to be moved in and out of the car due to the threat of theft.
One of my initial sketch ideas was a van, or small R.V., that A could use to temporarily live in until he found a place. But, he wouldn't have much use for a vehicle of this type once he found a more permanent situation; also, they cost a lot of money to run (high gas mileage) and dump a ton of emissions into the air. Then, I thought about the possibility of a portable locker, or pod, that he could put his most used possessions into. The portable locker idea morphed into an under-seat locker, but that wouldn't be big enough, or putting a pod on top of A's car, but those aren't super secure.
Finally, my prototype was an electric car, with a secure storage system under the hood (engine in back) and individual compartments to organize A's belongings. To avert break-ins (there might be possessions in the car) I made a decal for the window that looks like the inside of a car, a deterrent for any potential thief.
From working with A, I learned that listening carefully and pressing on answers helped me push through. Asking questions that seemed irrelevant lead to questions that felt pertinent. For me, keeping curiosity and dialog flowing helped to connect seemingly unrelated things (also, keeping good notes!). I also learned that having an ethnographic mindset helps immensely, as does an empathetic ear and optimistic mind. Making a prototype, even if it's not the best one, encouraged me to keep moving. Overall, I learned that stagnancy is a process killer! Even if I was rereading my notes, keeping the process moving was indispensable.