Tag Archives: IDEO

Design Thinking to Address Social and Business Problems

Design Thinking integrates structured creative problem-solving and “systems thinking” methods in design, engineering, business, educational, and non-profit settings by drawing on:

  • Empathy” for the problem context, often using ethnographic field research
  • Creativity in developing solutions
  • Rationality in aligning solutions with the context

David M. Kelley

David M. Kelley, IDEO founder, applied “design thinking” to business, based on Rolf Faste’s discussions Stanford of Robert McKim’s foundational book, Experiences in Visual Thinking

Design Thinking has been categorized in seven stages:  

  •     Define the problem, audience, criteria for “success,” priority
  •     Research the issue’s history, obstacles, previous efforts, stakeholders, end-users, thought leaders
  •     Ideate via brainstorming to identify end-users’ needs, wants
  •     Prototype with combined, expanded refined ideas, solicit feedback from end users, others
  •     Choose solutions after reviewing the objective
  •     Implement after determining, planning tasks, resources, assignments, execution timeline
  •     Learn by gathering end-user feedback, evaluating whether the solution met its goals, document successes and areas for improvement
    Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, discussed the cycle of Inspiration-Ideation–Implementation by applying such complementary processes as analysis and synthesis, and convergent and divergent thinking in Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.His TED Talk characterizes Design Thinking as a collaborative, participatory, human-centered process to solve problems innovatively by integrating opposing ideas and constraints and balancing among:
  • user desirability
  • technical feasibility
  • economic viabilityThomas Lockwood’s Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value, echoed Design Thinking’s use of careful observation, field research, graphic representation of solutions, and prototyping.He augmented the familiar framework by contributing an additional recommendation:  Concurrent business analysis, to accelerate innovative business strategy development and implementation.

    University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor Jeanne Liedtka added to Design Thinking process structures with her four-phase, 10-step framework in Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers, organized around key questions:

  • What Is?
  • What If?
  • What Wows?
  • What Works?
    Frog Design’s David Sherwin and Robert Fabricant developed Collective Action Toolkit, well-suited for young people in developing countries to become involved in developing solutions to pressing community problems.The process helps them develop important life skills:
  • Critical thinking
  • Listening to others
  • Asking effective questions
  • Generating innovative ideas
  • Active collaboration
  • Creating high-impact, motivating stories
  • Sustaining collective action
    CAT activities draw on design Thinking Principles in six areas:
  • Imagine New Ideas
  • Make Something Real
  • Plan for Action
  • Build Your Team
  • Seek New Understanding
  • Clarify Your GoalOutputs are documented according to:
  • What We Did
  • What We Learned
  • What We’ll DoNext
    Frog’s Collective Action Toolkit was field-tested with girls Bangladesh and Kenya, who reported increased self-confidence to engage in community development activities, and increased involvement and leadership in community building initiatives.-*What are some ways that Design Thinking can solve problems you see in work and life?

How and Who of Innovation

Many innovation experts urge overcoming roadblocks by “doing something different”, and Alex Cornell joins the chorus in his Breakthrough!: Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination 

In contrast, Tom Kelley offered more specific guidance in the stages of “how” innovation is managed at IDEO in   
  The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm:

•              Analyze the market, potential client groups, technology, and constraints for each innovation problem
•              Observe people in typical life situations
•              Visualize novel concepts and their intended customers
•              Evaluate and refine prototypes during rapid iterations
•              Implement new concept for commercialization

Steven Johnson offers seven non-linear principles of innovation in Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation:                                                          

•              Adjacent possible: Timing is essential for innovation to be accepted

•              Liquid networks: Connections between different disciplines to enable ideas development and implementation

•              Slow hunch: Insights incubate, germinate over time before becoming executable

•              Serendipity: Spontaneous, chance juxtaposition of ideas applied to other

•              Error: Outcomes considered “failures” from numerous trials  may lead to – and be required – to successfully implement ideas

•              Exaptation: Reusing existing ideas, technologies for a different purpose

•              Platforms: Adapting, recombining existing knowledge, components, implementation approaches to develop something new

Expert innovators seem to follow these guidelines and have developed skill through what Geoff Colvin calls “Deliberate Practice” in “What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else”, the sub-title of his book, Talent is Overrated.

He notes that Deliberate Practice is not considered “fun”, but is a highly demanding and repeated mental challenge, systematically designed to improve performance with consistent expert monitoring and feedback.

Colvin’s premise is based on K. Anders Ericsson’s classic Harvard Business Review article, “The Making of an Expert“, which outlines three contributors to superior performance across disciplines:

•             Deliberate Practice to improve existing skills and to extend the reach and range of skills
•             Expert coaching with consistent monitoring and corrective feedback
•              Support from family and mentors

Kelley of IDEO focused more recently on the “who” of innovation in The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization, organized by Learning, Building, and Organizing capabilities:                     

•              Experience
•              Set Designer
•              Caregiver
•              Storyteller
•              Anthropologist
•              Cross-pollinator
•              Hurdler
•              Experimenter
•              Collaborator
•              Director
Meredith Belbin offered similar analysis of eight team roles in his Team Roles at Work  and Management Teams: Why they succeed or fail  to ignite collaborative strategy definition and execution.   

These findings suggest that processes and practices can help shape innovation, but consistent, focused and attentive practice increases capacity to innovate more than “natural talent” — validating the well-known homespun advice to “work hard” and demonstrate a “strong work ethic.”

-*What processes and roles do you use to increase innovation at work?

Related post:  
It’s Mostly Random, So Just Do Something: Suggestions to Guide Innovation, Creativity

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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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