How often do people say “I’m so inspired”.

Aarushi Lal
4 min readSep 27, 2020


Quite A lot!! Isn’t it?

The most is through some random quotes that we see, one such example is below:

A clock communicating with a countdown timer, saying even you have to enjoy the now even if you are programmed otherwise.

Inspire comes from the Latin word that means to inflame or to blow in to.

A coal with high potential energy needs an extra push to get it all fired up, likewise to get inspired we need a feeling of enthusiasm that we can get from someone or something, which can turn us into a conceptualist who can create productive ideas.

I would like to share my insights here while I was taking a certification on HCD(Human Centred Design) from

HCD follows various design research methods. One such method is analogous inspiration or analogous empathy, where the designers completely switch their contexts in order to get a fresh perspective.

While doing research in order to build a product, we get many research results, however, analysing those results can sometimes be confusing and you get stuck, that’s when analogies turn out to be a powerful tool for developing insights that aren’t obvious in a direct approach. Analogous needfinding(a process through which we can understand our user needs better) spaces can bring up inspiration, a way to get unstuck, or a useful work-around when direct observation is unachievable.

Or in a simpler way if I can describe my mind in an analogy it would be:

“My mind is like my web browser. 19 tabs are open, 3 are frozen and I have no idea where the music is coming from.

An owl smiling

Analogies allow us to express our ideas or to explain complex matters in an understandable and motivating way. Seeking analogous inspiration makes us look outside our context and spark our own creativity. IDEO took this initiative to incorporate this as a part of their research method that could possibly give meaningful insights.

Here is a simple sketch of a flowchart to explain this research method in an easier way.

Basically, this research method provides us with innovative insights and Eureka Moments by not being goal oriented and related to criteria alone !!

During my quest, I came across some examples of analogous inspiration, one that led to the discovery of velcro that we use today is one of the most amazing inventions by George de Mestral. He said he was “Inspired by nature”.

The story that led to the invention started when the Swiss engineer with his dog goes on a hiking trip through the woods. He found burrs clinging to his pants and also to his dog’s fur.

On closer inspection, he found that the burr’s hooks would cling to anything loop-shaped. This accidental discovery led him to the invention of hook and loop fasteners.‘What makes burrs so difficult to remove?’ de Mestral wondered. When he returned home, de Mestral examined one under his microscope and ultimately invented a hook-and-loop fastener of his own. The principle was simple. The cocklebur is a maze of thin strands with burrs (or hooks) on the ends that cling to fabrics or animal fur. By the accident of the cockleburs sticking to his jacket, George de Mestral recognized the potential for a practical new fastener. Today his invention — Velcro — can be found on everything from clothing and lunch bags to space suits and spacecraft.

Another example of analogous inspiration is Henry Ford’s assembly line.

It was inspired by observing systems within slaughterhouses and grain warehouses. The creation of the assembly line in December 1913 by Henry Ford at his Highland Park plant revolutionised the automobile industry and the concept of manufacturing worldwide. The assembly line significantly decreased the assembly time per vehicle and increased the profit margin. The impact was immediate and revolutionary. It allowed for a continuous workflow, worker specialisation, less waste and a higher quality of the end product.

However, the methodology adopted in both the scenarios were the same.

To explain more about the methodology lets go though the assignment topic that we had, it was “How to encourage young social entrepreneurs in implementing their ideas”,

The step by step approach for the research:

  • Choose a target to achieve(Encourage Social Entrepreneurs) and take a paper and fold it into 3 columns.

First Column: Breakdown the target into a series of simple interactions.

Second Column: Simplify each of the items listed above.

Third Column: Turn these simplified things into a totally new thing.

  • Choose the one thing from the above list that is the most exciting and related according to your gut feel.
  • Experience it.
  • If you have not got the eureka moment or revelation during the experience, come back and list down the leisure points and pain points or switch to another experience and repeat the same process.

Next step was to create a mockup app with all the features that we could analyse from the overall research.

I know what’s on your mind, following this research method can be a little scary and risky, which means it is possible that you get zero meaningful insights from your analogous research experience, but as a matter of fact with most things in our life, with high risks comes the potential for high rewards.







Aarushi Lal

A UI person by profession, often fascinated with the world around. Loves to delineate a story , a moment or a thought via sketch or camera.