Tag Archives: design_thinking

What’s Next For Design Thinking

In the approximately 8 years since I first began reading about design thinking, as a strategy for user-centered problem solving, I have probably seen an equal number of articles touting the glory of design thinking and those predicting its demise as an approach to thoughtful problem resolution. Neither side has quite gotten it right. Design thinking is no cure all for what ails society (thought IDEO has been exploring how design thinking can solve global problems) but it has certainly survived Nussbaum’s declaration that it was over. [NOTE – if you are new to design thinking click on “design thinking” in the category list to find and read any of the many prior posts on design thinking here at DBL]

Design thinking has never really caught on in the library community the way that user experience has, though I’ve always thought of these two as being connected. Done well, a user experience should be the result of a design process. Design thinking might help get it right. The IDEO Design Thinking toolkit for libraries might change that though. I was at a conference just recently where the theme was user experience, and the individual who gave the opening welcome surprised me by speaking to the importance of design thinking as an approach for developing thoughtful solutions to challenging problems. It was good to see design thinking getting a mention, but I suspect we will still rarely encounter design thinking workshops at library conferences.

Part of the problem is that the library community has yet to really figure out how to use design thinking. I would include myself among those who see value in design thinking but can be challenged to find good opportunities to put it to use. We get that it’s important to adopt a user-centered approach to planning library services and spaces, but it should be more than that. The attraction of design thinking is having a systematic approach to tackling a truly challenging problem. There are few case studies of librarians using design thinking to solve a wicked problem such as local (campus) scholarly communications reform or a dramatic decline in library gate count.

In his essay on the failings and end of design thinking Nussbaum asked “what’s next?”. For him the answer was creative intelligence. For others it was strategic design or perhaps the design approach. Several years after Nussbaum asked the question, it’s still being asked. Mark Payne is a cofounder of Fahrenheit and author of the new book “How to Kill a Unicorn”, and he argues that design thinking still falls short of what it needs to be. Unlike Nussbaum, Payne sees value in design thinking but believes that design needs strategy to help organizations succeed. He offers some examples of how some businesses are using design thinking in tandem with analytical thinking to achieve better solutions. What’s next for design thinking, according to Payne, is moving beyond user-center design to design that seeks balance between what the user needs and the organization can deliver.

Larry Keeler is an innovation expert who also suggests we need to enter a post-design thinking phase. In a long post titled “Beyond Design Thinking” Keeler explores territory similar to Payne: design thinking must be more than just design. He writes:

Design thinking without deep analysis and synthesis can be reckless. Leading companies are seeking to do both recursively and in integrated new ways to manage complexity, derive insights, and catalyze innovation in fast-changing ecosystems.

Keeler amplifies on this statement by reminding us that we must refrain from believing that design thinking alone will solve all of our problems. That’s not a particularly new piece of advice, but a good reminder that we all need multiple problem-solving tools in our box. Like Payne, Keeler advocates that design without analysis is reckless. So what does Keeler suggest should come next for design thinking? Not unlike Payne he sees a growing blend of design and analysis. He writes, “What works today is deep, informed analysis seamlessly synthesized into coherent, beautiful solutions.”

Payne and Keeler offer interesting visions for how design thinking needs to evolve. Both point to integrating a more analytical approach into the design. Whether some next-generation of design thinking will soon emerge is not yet clear. What seems to be happening now is some new exploration on what design thinking could be with a greater emphasis on analysis.

Wherever design thinking may be headed I would encourage library workers to follow the conversation and pay attention to the ways in which designers, innovators, educators and others are applying design thinking for everyday and complex problem solving. I think it’s great that so many more librarians are learning about user experience and wanting their community members to have a better library experience, but let’s not overlook design thinking as a tool that can help us figure out how to get there.

Experts Chime In On Design Thinking And Design

One of the questions often asked of design thinkers is how it differs from the practice of design itself. Based on a series of questions and answers with four leading design thinking experts, the answer seems to be that design thinking is a process for better understanding problems in order to achieve good solutions. It is more about thinking through a problem in a systematic way with the goal of arriving at a workable solution. Design, on the other hand, focuses on improving experiences in an intentional way. What else do these top thinkers have to say about design and design thinking?

DMI Review, a publication of the Design Management Institute, featured interviews with A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble, Don Norman, executive and educator, Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, and Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, in its Summer 2013 issue. You can find the home page of this issue here but depending on your affiliation you may or may not be able to access them without a fee. You may also be able to find scans of some of the interviews with an Internet search (e.g., I came across the Martin Q&A). It’s rare to find all four of these experts sharing their insights together in the Q&A format, so this is a good find for those who want to learn more about design thinking.

Here are some highlights from the interviews:

Lafley: “Design thinking is about using your whole brain.” “Consumers usually cannot tell us what they want, but they can respond to stimuli. Through an iterative process that involved consumers with early stage concepts and product prototypes we got to be really good at designing better consumer experiences.”

Norman: “Design thinking is a process of determining the correct problem (as opposed to jumping to a solution). After the correct problem has been determined, then it is a process of working toward an acceptable solution.” “Anyone can do it with training and practice.”

Brown: “In business, design thinking can be described as an approach that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and with what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Martin: “The fundamental principle is balance of opposing forces. Design thinking balances exploitation and exploration, reliability and validity, analysis and intuition, and declarative logic and modal logic.”

Each interview is fairly short so if you can get your hands on this article you’ll find, without a significant time investment, more than a few interesting insights into both design thinking and design.

L-Schools and I-Schools Should Take A Closer Look At D-Schools

According to the Wall Street Journal (watch the video) D-Schools are hot and B-Schools are not. The WSJ is acknowledging an important trendh within B-Schools that has been growing in popularity for a few years. While it’s true that a few forward thinking business schools, most notably the Rotman School of Business (U of Toronto) and the Weatherhead School (Case Western) have integrated design thinking into their curriculum, the vast majority of business schools are still offering the same traditional courses and career paths for their MBA students. Moving to a design thinking influenced curriculum makes good sense because more businesses are making use of design thinking and looking to hire those who can bring more of these skills to their companies. At my own institution, the Fox School of Business includes the Center for Design and Innovation, where the faculty are exploring the intersection of design and business, and exposing the newest MBA students to the design inquiry process, a variant on design thinking.

While the video does point out that some B-Schools are providing a mix of design thinking and business thinking, it emphasizes that D-Schools may be the new B-Schools. Students who may have opted for an MBA in the past now want to be designers – especially designers who work at companies like Apple, Google or Facebook. They want to mix their business knowledge with the problem solving methods used by designers. The Stanford D-School is probably the hottest D-School right now, and perhaps it’s no surprise that there are many connections between the school and IDEO. I have participated in several of the D-School’s one-hour webinars, and have learned some great things about design thinking from their faculty members.

It’s great that business schools are recognizing the value of design thinking – and that business people are recognizing the value of attending D-Schools. Perhaps now is the right time for L-Schools (Library) and I-Schools (Information) to take a closer look into this trend, and consider how to integrate design thinking into the curriculum that prepares future library professionals. I made this suggestion in a post a few years ago, and there was a mixed reaction – everything from “Who is he to tell us how to design our curriculum” to “Sounds like an interesting idea” to “I’m already doing this”. The lack of enthusiasm for my suggestion was likely owing to a lack of familiarity with design thinking. Courses on library instruction, human-computer interaction or usability studies may include some elements of design, but it would be completely different to integrate design thinking philosophy into the curriculum – so that every graduate has internalized the design inquiry process as a problem-solving methodology. As a result of that post, I was asked to participate in an ALISE conference panel focusing on design in the LIS curriculum – thanks to those faculty who were open to the possibilities. Clearly there is opportunity here. To my way of thinking, the first LIS program that successfully merges design thinking and library science will establish a distinct advantage in the field. As a starting point, take a closer look at how B-Schools are integrating design thinking into their curriculum and why they are doing it. Even better, make a visit to the Stanford D-School.

This post is not intended as a critique of our LIS programs. There are great programs turning out high quality graduates. I do think the LIS program that breaks new ground by integrating design thinking and philosophy into the curriculum will establish a real advantage over the programs that stay the course. We need LIS graduates with those traditional skills that prepare them for library work. We have a greater need for students who are savvy problem solvers. With the wicked problems confronting the library profession, we need colleagues who can design elegant solutions. Design thinking skills could help our future librarians be the kind of problem solvers and decision makers that can tackle any challenging no matter what area of librarianship is involved. That’s what design thinkers do – they figure out what the real problem is and design a solution. Perhaps some L-Schools and I-Schools will seriously look into the D-School trend, with an intent to use it as a model for future curriculum development. If the goal is to create better libraries, should’t it start with how we prepare future librarians? In the meantime, is it possible that more libraries will just start hiring D-School graduates? I think some already are or will do so soon.

A Manual For Design Thinkers

One of the knocks against design thinking is that it’s too much about thinking and too little about taking practical action – getting things done. I wrote about this reaction, which calls into question the value of design thinking, and suggested that we needed to focus more on the design approach as a practical method for putting our design thinking tools and techniques to work. In seeking out more ideas on how to accomplish this I acquired a copy of “Designing for Growth: A Design Toolkit for Managers.”. I believe the book has lived up to expectations. Of the numerous books and articles I’ve read about design thinking, this one is the best at providing a concrete approach to applying design thinking in your practice. Yet in many ways the book sticks to the blueprint for design thinking, albeit broken down into more steps with a variety of techniques organized into “ten tools”.

Let me give you an example. In the classic IDEO method, the first phase of the design thinking process is to be an empathic designer – to put yourself into the place of the end user of your service or product. As was famously said about designers in the Deep Dive video by David Kelley, “We not experts at anything. The only things we’re experts at is the design process.” The video then goes on to illustrate how designers go out into the field to study the existing experience and learn from the experts – those who either create or use the product or service. The second tool in the Toolkit is Journey Mapping. This is an exercise the design team conducts to create a graphic flowchart of the customer’s experience as he or she interacts with the products and services provided by the library. The whole point of Mapping is to deeply understand things from the point of view of the end user. What’s the first tool? That’s another thing I really liked; it’s visualization. The authors, right off the bat, emphasize the importance of visual communication throughout the design process. There’s a chapter dedicated to each of the ten tools, and the one on visualization even has some sketching tips.

Many of the steps, processes and tools discussed in the book really connect back to the basic fundamentals of design thinking. The difference is in the way the ideas, practices and techniques are organized around four phases of the design process: (1) What Is? (2) What If? (3) What Wows? (4) What Works. It’s interesting that steps one and two are all about discovering what the gap is between the problem and potential solution. Again, that’s classic design thinking. What Wows is all about prototyping, and What Works is about implementation and evaluation. It’s all there. That said, I see this book as being somewhat different from others on design thinking. Others, like The Art of Innovation or The Design of Business, are more like straight read throughs. This book really is more like a toolkit. You just use your hammer or screwdriver when you need it to get a job done; you don’t take out every tool in the box. Likewise, if I just want to invite our community members to work with us in developing a new service, I can just make use of the chapter on customer co-creation. It offers me the steps I need to follow to get this done successfully. While some may come away with the impression that the book is a bit on the busy side and that there are many possible distractions within the book, I tend to prefer the many sidebars used throughout the book. They may be a bit of a distraction on the first reading, but then you discover there’s lots of practical advice and ideas found within those sidebars.

If you want to get a taste of the book Designing for Growth, you may want to read an article based on the book, “Learning to use design thinking tools for successful innovation” that was authored by Jeanne Liedtka in the journal Strategy & Leadership (Vol. 39 No. 5, pgs. 13-19). It is behind a paywall, and your library may or may not provide access (NOTE: it can be “rented” for $3.99 via DeepDyve if that option works for you). When librarians ask me to provide more practical ideas for how they can implement design thinking in their libraries, I’m going to point them to Designing for Growth. I think the authors are on the right track when it comes to moving potential design thinkers from thinking to doing.

From Design Thinking to Design Process

Since writing this post focusing on Bruce Nussbaum’s essay about design thinking as a failed experiment I have come across other posts and articles referencing the essay and commenting one way or another on the state of design thinking. One in particular titled “The Short Happy Life of Design Thinking” authored by Damien Newman was published in the August 2011 issue of Print magazine (sorry but this article is not online), and though it’s a rather short piece I thought it did a good job of capturing the essence of the main critique of design thinking: design thinking doesn’t actually get the desired results. Newman writes:

And here lies the difficulty with the term “design thinking”: It didn’t offer an actual, repeatable process but rather defined how a designer should think, a kind of mind-set that would set in motion the process of design. Design thinking alone didn’t have the results that the simple process of design did…Organizations that bought into the concept of design thinking were not getting what they wanted, which was to produce better, more innovative results.

Newman then goes on to share the story of a new social change project called Common, described as a community for the rapid prototyping of social ventures. One of their ventures is Common Cycles. Newman’s point is that Common is an example of a post-design thinking organization that brings together experience, intuition, creativity and collaboration. Newman believes this is a good example of the transition from design thinking to design process. As I read Newman’s piece I was puzzled between the difference between design thinking and the design process; they seem quite similar in the components that define them. Then I had an experience with the design approach – which is similar to what Newman describes as the design process – and I now think I see how the design approach is similar to design thinking and perhaps is even based on the same principles – but which gives a more practical process for putting it to work on designing solutions.

Here’s what happened. About two weeks after writing the post about Nussbaum’s article I had a great experience in which I participated in a two-day design process workshop at Temple University. This is a development about which I’m quite excited. It is part of a larger effort to integrate more design approach-based education into our B-school curriculum. Most of the activity is coming out of our Center for Design and Innovationwhich is led by Youngjin Yoo, who was previously at the Weatherhead School of Mangement at Case Western University. I previously wrote a post about the book Managing as Designing, a book that evolved from a conference on design in business held at Weatherhead – and which contains a chapter authored by Youngjin Yoo (which I subsequently realized after writing the post). I’ve since had several conversations with faculty leading the effort at the CDI, and we recently collaborated by having our incoming MBA students conduct a design project (about wayfinding) here at the library. Back on June 16 and 17 I attended the Center’s Business is Design workshop, facilitated by Yoo and James Moustafellos, an architect, designer and entrepreneur (and also faculty at the B-school). I thought I knew a good amount about design thinking, which was discussed in the workshop, but I really learned even more about it, primarily the hands-on aspects of the design process.

Here are a few highlights of the workshop:

* Develop a design attitude as a process for innovation – the process should be an iterative one in which we should be asking ourselves “can we make this better?” and being deliberate about taking action to try to make it better. (an exercise using pieces of paper to simulate a design process and express the attitude)

* Technology is not always the path to innovation. Listening, observing and working in teams is another means to achieve innovation. Constraints such as time or resources move the process forward as they force us to be deliberate in our thinking. (a small group activity involving intense listening and shared observations)

* We use design to deliberately shape the behavior of the user (anecdotes about urinal design with the goal of keeping these areas cleaner). Great design can achieve far better results than text-based signs.

* Empower the organization to get everyone thinking and sharing ideas. Move from the old mainframe/dumb terminal paradigm to the personal computing paradigm where everyone is empowered (of course there is the struggle between innovation and control).

* Systemic experiences emerge from the design inquiry process – composed of five questions:
* What are the problems?
* Who are the stakeholders?
* Why are these needs/issues important?
* What are the solutions?
* What are the resources?

* Use the design approach to move from things to action. Move from nouns to verbs. A library is a thing. Transforming people is an action.

To reinforce many of these ideas the workshop challenged us with many design approach activities. I’m not going to provide those details for two reasons. First, this is already a long post that would become even longer, and second, I am hesitant to divulge too many details that would take away any of the surprise elements for those who may take this workshop in the future. I will say that the second day of the workshop revolves a major project that requires the participants to go through the design inquiry process in a very hands-on way. In a combination of field study – getting out to observe, listen, ask questions, record data, etc. – and team-based workshop exercises (e.g., creating personas, experience mapping, etc) the participants gained a great understanding of what it means to go through the design inquiry process.

When I registered for the workshop I thought it would simply reinforce what I already knew about design thinking. It did much more than that. It moved me from just seeing design as a way of thoughtfully developing solutions to a process in which we have to engage ourselves in a mental and physical way. This is why Damien Newman’s article resonated with me, which it may not have without the design workshop experience. Now I understand what he means when advocating for moving from “thinking” to “process”. I believe there is value in understanding design thinking as the way in which designers approach their work, but it is more powerful when we acknowledge that we also must engage in the design inquiry process when we want to produce the “better, more innovative results” that Newman describes. I plan to continue my involvement with the Center for Design and Innovation at Temple University because I believe there is much more yet to be learned about the design process. I would encourage you to seek out similar opportunities – and encourage your colleagues to join you.

Design Thinking’s Guru On Leadership

Bruce Nussbaum is ready to get off the design thinking ship, but one of its original captains is still strong at the helm. I’m talking about David Kelley, described in this recent interview with Fast Company as the principal guru of design thinking. In this interview Kelley doesn’t comment on Nussbaum’s decision to move on to something new that he calls “creative intelligence”, but focuses on how design thinking applies to leadership. To motivate employees and enable them to achieve workplace success, a good leader can improve by applying some basic design thinking processes.

Here are a few of Kelley’s insights into “leadership by design”:

* The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same thing–building empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help. Once you understand what they really value, it’s easy because you can mostly give it to them.

* The way I would measure leadership is this: of the people that are working with me, how many wake up in the morning thinking that the company is theirs?

* I’m trying to get people to remain confident in their creative ability. In order for them to have that kind of creativity, you have to be very transparent. Understand them and involve them in the decisions being made. Even if the decision goes the wrong way, they still were there and saw how we decided to do this and so they’re behind it.

* I don’t think people do anything out of fear very well. So I think the only choice is to have them intrinsically motivated.

This is a worthwhile read because I previously haven’t thought much about the IDEO approach to design thinking as a touchstone for better leadership. But I like the ideas that Kelley shares. What is more important than having empathy for those we work with everyday? How, as a leader, can I achiever greater transparency? How can I encourage creativity and innovation within the organization? As always, Kelley gives us something to think about beyond the traditional perceptions of design.

Prominent Design Thinker Moves On

Nearly everyone was surprised to read Bruce Nussbaum’s latest essay about design thinking titled “Design Thinking is a Failed Experiment: So What’s Next”. I first shared a link to Nussbaum with DBL readers back in 2007, and recommended his blog as a good source of information about design thinking and user experience. Since then Nussbaum has been a leading proponent of design thinking as a way to improve organizations and increase creativity and innovation. In his regular columns about design thinking for BusinessWeek Nussbaum would share great insights into how organizations were using design thinking to achieve better results. How is it that someone so connected with design thinking would write “The decade of Design Thinking is ending and I, for one, am moving on.”

The gist of Nussbaum’s farewell to design thinking is that the business community has failed to apply design thinking as it was intended – or as it is applied in the design community. The failure is not so much about what design thinking is as the way that business has turned it into a process for achieving creativity. He writes:

Design Thinking originally offered the world of big business–which is defined by a culture of process efficiency–a whole new process that promised to deliver creativity. By packaging creativity within a process format, designers were able to expand their engagement, impact, and sales inside the corporate world. Companies were comfortable and welcoming to Design Thinking because it was packaged as a process…There were many successes, but far too many more failures in this endeavor. Why? Companies absorbed the process of Design Thinking all to well, turning it into a linear, gated, by-the-book methodology that delivered, at best, incremental change and innovation.

It seems to me that Nussbaum is saying that business has warped the intent of design thinking by trying to turn it into a totally rational, analytical process for achieving creativity – in other words – trying to turn it into every other business fad such as TQM or Sigma Six. If you apply the process and follow the process it will provide the desired results. Only, according to Nussbaum, it didn’t. Nussbaum appears to have lost his optimism about design thinking’s capacity to serve as a process to help business become more creative and ultimately better organizations with improved products and services. In his post, Nussbaum still has some great things to say about design thinking’s impact has on improving some areas of society, but it ultimately hasn’t delivered on creativity. That’s where Nussbaum is headed. He writes:

In my experience, when you say the word “design” to people across a table, they tend to smile politely and think “fashion.” Say “design thinking,” and they stop smiling and tend to lean away from you. But say “creativity” and people light up and lean in toward you… I believe the concept of Creative Intelligence expands that social engagement even further… I am defining Creative Intelligence as the ability to frame problems in new ways and to make original solutions.

Hmm. Does Creative Intelligence sound somewhat like design thinking? Isn’t the goal of design thinkers to creatively identify problems and develop thoughtful solutions – the way that designers do? There are over 80 comments to Nussbaum’s post and many of them take up this point. At least one blogger agreed with Nussbaum, and provided a good discussion on the connection between creativity and innovation (saying that business saw design thinking as the path to innovation).

That Nussbaum says he is moving on to something new should be of little concern to those of us who find value in design thinking. His concerns seem more focused on the way business used design thinking – and the fact that there were more failures than successes – than the process of design thinking itself. But there’s a useful lesson here (and in the video interview with Tim Brown he provides in his post – see the 16-25 minute area) that if you just look at design thinking as a rote series of steps that you can apply to any problem, it’s bound to fail. The focus needs to be on the generation of creativity in developing solutions – on the outcomes. I will be interested in Nussbaum’s book on Creative Intelligence that comes out next year. I wonder what he will say about design thinking, and what more Creative Intelligence can offer us.

Designers Think Differently

It’s one thing to say that design thinking, at its core, is about thinking the way designers think – but what does that really mean and how can you best articulate exactly what is unique about the way designers approach problems that leads to innovation. In this HBR Conversations Blog post titled “How Good Designers Think” Simon Rucker does a nice job of sharing his ideas on what makes the design thinking process unique. He does make a reference to a 2007 blog post by Bruce Nussbaum on the intangible assets of design thinkers. Rucker breaks down the work of designers into three areas: insight; inspiration; action.

Here are a couple of highlights from Rucker:

* “Good designers aim to move beyond what you get from simply asking consumers what they need and want” – Designers want to find out what consumers won’t tell them or directly ask for – that’s where great innovations come from – giving people something they want or think they need without them even asking for it. Don’t think of people as consumers – but as people who need/want things. So instead observe.

* “Good designers want to solve problems — and this makes them want to transform insights into inspiration.” – As has been said many times before here designers are about figuring out what the problem is and how to fix it. Good designers are inspired to imagine the future.

* “When good designers talk about innovation, they mean (and I make no apologies for cribbing Lord Sainsbury’s much-quoted definition), “the successful exploitation of new ideas.” They don’t stop with the invention. They turn their inspirations into reality.” This is perhaps the most important point for librarians. We may come up with many ideas, some of them actually even good, but we too often fail to move our ideas to the implementation stage. Rucker offers some thoughts on what enables designers to get to implementation from idea.

So if you prefer to keep things simple as you work to understand how designers think and as you integrate these principles into your practice, you might just find Rucker’s three-part formula effective:

1 – Insight: They Look at What We Don’t Know

2 – Inspiration: They Look for What to Do

3 – Action: They Keep Going

Insights. Inspiration. Action

Managing As Designing: A Worthwhile Discovery

While I cannot quite recall where I came across it, most likely in one of the two dozen or so design-oriented blogs that I follow, I recently discovered the book Managing as Designing. First published in 2004, it was edited by Richard Boland and Fred Collopy, two faculty members at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. The book itself is the product of a Managing as Design Seminar that took place at the then recently completed Peter B. Lewis Building, home of the Weatherhead School. What triggered the seminar, book, and even a DVD about the seminar, was Boland’s experience working with Frank O. Gehry on the design and construction of the Lewis Building. In the first chapter, Boland and Collopy write:

During the four and one-half years of working with Gehry Partners on the planning, design and construction of the Lewis Building, we experienced an approach to problem solving that is quite different from our own, from that of the managers we study, and from what we teach our students. We refer to this mind-set and approach to problem solving as a “design attitude”…What is needed in managment practice and education today is the development of a “design attitude” which goes beyond default solutions in creating new possibilities for the future.

As you read this chapter you can feel how impressed Boland and Collopy were with what they were learning about the design attitude from Gehry and his associates. It had such a profound impact on them that they became determined to radically change the nature of business education at Weatherhead. The term “design thinking” is used here and there in the book, but Boland and Collopy seem to prefer their own design attitude. Perhaps if they were writing this book today they would use the term design thinking. As I read different chapters I kept asking myself how I could have missed this book for so long? When I first became interested in design thinking in 2006 there was far less material being generated about it, and having this book would have been a big help in shaping my thinking. It was actually in the collection at the library I was working at back then; I just missed it.

In the first chapter, Boland and Collopy expand on the differences between their traditional “decision attitude” and the design attitude they were learning from Gehry. The decision attitude, which was the long-held focus of management education, towards problem solving was “overwhelmingly dominant in management practice…and solves problems by making rational choices among alternatives and uses tools such as economic analysis, risk assessment, multiple criteria decision making, simulation, and the time value of money.” The design attitude by contrast “is concerned with finding the best answer possible given the skills, time, and resources of the team, and takes for granted that it will require the invention of new alternatives. The decision attitude assumes there is already an optimal solution to the problem, and that managers just need to be rational and analytical in order to identify that solution. The design attitude allows for the possibility that the solution doesn’t already exist, and that a team will need to create a new, untried possibility. One can’t help but make a connection between these ideas and Martin’s “opposable mind” and “knowledge funnel” models of how design influences decision making so that it is a blending of the rational and intuitive mind in which the goal is to neither choose solution A or B but rather innovate solution C.

You don’t need to read every essay in this book. Some are highly theoretical, others may be more design specific than desired. One chapter to explore is the one titled “The Role of Constraints” by Vandenbosch and Gallagher. They discuss how dealing with constraints impacts the work of artists and architects, and that it is important to acknowledge that constraints are fundamental to the design process. Designers must constantly deal with constraints, and appreciating them can lead to improved creativity. There’s hardly a project in the academic library that is free of constraints, be it time or money. I think this is an area where we can learn a great deal from design in learning how to turn our constraints in thinking opportunities – and I hope to write more about this.

If you don’t have time to read Managing as Design you can get the gist of the ideas and applications by watching this interview with Richard Boland or you can now view the original DVD made to accompany the workshop. It is found in seven parts on YouTube. Start with this video. By the way, discovering these videos has also been a great part of this find. I hope you will enjoy learning from them.

An Interview With Roger Martin

If you were thinking this post was about an interview I conducted with Roger Martin, well, sorry to have misled – though I’d certainly like that opportunity. But the folks at IdeaConnection.com did interview Martin. They produce the weekly Innovation Newsletter which features in depth reviews with many great thought leaders who share their insights into innovation, creativity, teamwork and much more. I subscribe to their weekly e-mail alert which helps me stay on top of the latest interviews. I was pleased to discover a new interview with Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto. “Diving Into Mysteries” is an interview well worth reading even if you have previously read Martin’s books such as The Opposable Mind and the Design of Business.

The bulk of the interview focuses on the themes explored in The Design of Business. It all starts with the mystery. Martin states that “Innovation is taking out of a mystery some form of understanding that enables you to focus on some things rather than others…You extract out of a broad, mysterious cloud the things that help you make sense of what you are seeing. That’s a heuristic. Heuristics are ways of thinking about a mystery that helps us to better understand it…The best innovators recognize mysteries, and are brave enough to dive into them.” If you’ve read the Design of Business this interview will refresh you on the core concepts, and if you’ve not yet had an opportunity to do so it will introduce you to Martin’s perspective on design thinking and introduce you to the knowledge funnel.

Speaking of perspectives on design thinking, I recently attended – for the first time – a webcast sponsored by the Stanford School of Design. I was pleased to become aware of these free learning opportunities (even with the promos for the School’s online workshops – but it is still a great way to hear some excellent speakers). The program I attended was titled “Design Thinking and Peak Performance” (sponsored by the Innovation Masters Series: Design Thinking & the Art of Innovation). I’ve provided the link so you can take a look at the webcast. If you have been following the literature on design thinking most of this will sound familiar to you, but I picked up a few new ideas and thoughts about design thinking.

Given my recent reading of the Martin interview I asked the speakers what their perspective was on what I refer to as the “IDEO School of Thought” on design thinking versus the “Roger Martin School of Thought” on design thinking. While the presenters agreed they could see how one could point to these two different schools of thought, they thought that they actually both emerged from earlier perspectives on design thinking that came out of the Stanford engineering and design program. As the speakers said “There is no difference in the underlying philosophy of design thinking” you have coming out of IDEO or the Rotman School of Business. If there was any difference to which they could point it would be that Martin’s vision of design thinking is oriented more to the world of business. They said it “Reframes our design thinking ideas into business concepts for the folks in the boardroom.” I thought that was a pretty good way to describe the difference. I thought the speakers also provided an excellent description of how to introduce design thinking to your colleagues and implement it for a project for the first time (listen the the Q&A period at the last five minutes of the webcast).

Finally, I came across a new book on design thinking (not out quite yet) titled “Design Thinking: Understand – Improve – Apply.” Since it is possible to “look inside” at Amazon I reviewed the table of contents. It looks like a book I’ll want to at least explore. The surprise I discovered is that the book costs $137 at Amazon. I have to think about this one. If you buy a copy, let me know.