Saturday, July 7, 2012

Change by Design

I want to share a few personal highlights from Tim Brown's Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires InnovationIf you have not read Change by Design I would encourage you consider adding it to your list of must reads.  Among other critical points, Brown demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of design.  Brown uses examples from his role as CEO of IDEO to promote the need to fuse together individuals from diverse backgrounds into a design team.  Additionally, Brown's discussion of ethnography and divergent thinking could serve as talking points for a global conversation amongst a faculty.

What we need are new choices—new products that balance the needs of individuals and of society as a whole; new ideas that tackle the global challenges of health, poverty, and education; new strategies that result in differences that matter and a sense of purpose that engages everyone affected by them.

Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols.

A competent designer can always improve upon last year’s new widget, but an interdisciplinary team of skilled design thinkers is in a position to tackle more complex problems. From pediatric obesity to crime prevention to climate change, design thinking is now being applied to a range of challenges that bear little resemblance to the covetable objects that fill the pages of today’s coffee-table publications.

The reason for the iterative, nonlinear nature of the journey is not that design thinkers are disorganized or undisciplined but that design thinking is fundamentally an exploratory process

There is a popular saying around IDEO that “all of us are smarter than any of us,” and this is the key to unlocking the creative power of any organization

A culture that believes that it is better to ask forgiveness afterward rather than permission before, that rewards people for success but gives them permission to fail, has removed one of the main obstacles to the formation of new ideas

Insight is one of the key sources of design thinking, and it does not usually come from reams of quantitative data that measure exactly what we already have and tell us what we already know. A better starting point is to go out into the world and observe the actual experiences of commuters, skateboarders, and registered nurses as they improvise their way through their daily lives

In a design paradigm, however, the solution is not locked away somewhere waiting to be discovered but lies in the creative work of the team. The creative process generates ideas and concepts that have not existed before. These are more likely to be triggered by observing the odd practices of an amateur carpenter or the incongruous detail in a mechanic’s shop than by hiring expert consultants or asking “statistically average” people to respond to a survey or fill out a questionnaire   

Although we will never, I hope, lose respect for the designer as inspired form giver, it is common now to see designers working with psychologists and ethnographers, engineers and scientists, marketing and business experts, writers and filmmakers   

By testing competing ideas against one another, there is an increased likelihood that the outcome will be bolder, more creatively disruptive, and more compelling. Linus Pauling said it best: “To have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas”