Harvard University: Design thinking for creativity and business innovation series a design thinker's primer


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Design Thinking forCreativity and BusinessInnovation Series This teaching note was authored by Idris Mootee with contribution from Mathew Lincez solely as the basis for executiveeducation and class discussion. Teaching notes and cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primarydata or illustrations of effective or ineffective managem

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Harvard University: Design thinking for creativity and business innovation series a design thinker's primer

  1. 1. Design Thinking forCreativity and BusinessInnovation SeriesIdris MooteeThis teaching note was authored by Idris Mootee with contribution from Mathew Lincez solely as the basis for executiveeducation and class discussion. Teaching notes and cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primarydata or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.Copyright © 2011 Idea Couture Inc. Idea Couture is a global strategic innovation, customer insights and experiencedesign firm that brings together the power of D-School + B-School™ thinking. The firm engages in strategic innovation,ethnographic research and design programs that identify and fulfill unmet, unknown and unarticulated customer needs totransform brands and organizations.To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1.800.928.9135 or email contact@ideacouture.com.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any formor by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise—without the permission of Idea Couture Inc.
  2. 2. 02 harvarD graDuaTe sChool of Design Design Thinking for CreaTiviTy exeCuTive eDuCaTion anD Business innovaTion series/ADeSIgnThInkIngPrImer Many organizations have been battered by system level economic failure, and the collapse of tradi- tional management processes. These wounds have left businesses gazing hopefully towards design thinking asIdris Mootee a new management “wonder drug” that will help make sense of the cur- rent situation. Design Thinking pres- ents itself as an attractive approach to problem solving for those who need to address complex, ambigu- ous, uncertain and volatile circum- stances across multiple contexts and cultures. Design Thinking brings a There has been a plethora of interest recently refreshed, revitalized and rejuvenatedon Design Thinking but is Design Thinking helpful approach to management and stra- tegic thinking however, it is far fromor does it merely export the dogmas of design to a cure-all.business strategy? Corporations are facing criseson several fronts, not only from the obvious such Will Design Thinking sink in the up- coming years much like many otheras low cost competition, economic sustainability short-lived management fads or will itand social development, but business leaders and change business forever? Traditional design firms (and even branding andgovernments are also experiencing a profound design studios) are quick to claimcrisis of trust and legitimacy. All these factors have that they can change the world.triggered a loss of confidence in traditional pro- Corporations however, may be disap- pointed with these promises if thesecesses. The core of many management theories companies lack an understanding inare being questioned and “management” is close business strategy, industry dynamics, channel economics and capital inten-to a point of failure. Leaders are looking to find sity. Change requires more than justsomething new to grasp onto in order to make sexy designs and catchy slogans but adding a few MBAs to your employeesense of what’s going on and to prepare for a roster does not equal a strategy con-future of unprecedented uncertainties. sultancy firm either.Copyright 2011 Idea Couture Inc.
  3. 3. 03 harvarD graDuaTe sChool of Design Design Thinking for CreaTiviTy exeCuTive eDuCaTion anD Business innovaTion seriesThere are many ways to define Design Thinking. It is:/ A way to instill customer-centricity and empathy/ A means to solve complex problems/ A methodology to foster exploration and experimentation/ A design buzz word to tell you a designer can do more than design/ A management buzz word sold as the “next” strategic tool/ A marketing slogan or tag line It is important to recognizeDesign Thinking has a lot of value but a few questions remain, is it time for us that Design Thinking isto reinvent design? Will a new organization redesign design? The transforma- not exclusive to designerstion of design agencies to strategy consulting firms is an interesting idea but an or unattainable to thoseextremely challenging one. The term “design thinkers” implies that designers are in another discipline. Designcraftsmen and not thinkers, which is not always the case. It is also a stretch for Thinking is natural andtraditional design firms to rely solely on design thinking to solve strategic issues. inherent in all of us.Design firms need to explore cultural transformation within themselves beforethey can implement it for others.Today, Design Thinking is frequently compared and contrasted to business.This is often an over simplification that forces us into predetermined roles alongwith their associated rules, conventions, behaviors and formal expectations. Itis important to recognize that Design Thinking is not exclusive to designers orunattainable to those in another discipline. Design Thinking is natural and inher-ent in all of us. It is an approach to inquiry and expression that complements andenhances existing skills, behaviors and techniques. It is also critical not to definethe discipline as the antithesis of data-driven analytical thinking. Design thinkingis its own mode of analysis – one that focuses on forms, relationships, behaviorand real human interactions and emotions. These may include:/ How an entity (product, service, system or business) currently lives in the ecosystem or sub-system?/ How individuals or groups interact with that entity and the nature, frequency and attributes of that interaction?/ How the different elements in the environment relate to one another and what if any system level impact exists?Design Thinking is a cognitive and intellectual process that balances the rationaland emotional – in effect combining left brain and right brain thinking. Whenapplied, it harmonizes with other modes of thinking and closes knowledge andinformation gaps, creating order and refining meaning.Copyright 2011 Idea Couture Inc.
  4. 4. 04 harvarD graDuaTe sChool of Design Design Thinking for CreaTiviTy exeCuTive eDuCaTion anD Business innovaTion seriesDeSIgn ThInkIng DeSIgn ThInkIng Many however approach DesignCore VAlueS CAPABIlITIeS AnD ToolS Thinking from the perspective of au- tomation complemented by imagina-The evolution of mankind has survived Incorporating Design Thinking into tion – as it employs in some casesbecause we work well in groups, we business practices requires certain predictable and repeatable processescommunicate, empathize with one capabilities – a tool kit that includes that can, to some extent, be codifiedanother, anticipate, understand and observational techniques, needs as algorithms. It can also simultane-exchange. This collaboration between mapping, opportunity scanning ously embrace more serendipitous,individuals and groups is tangible and rapid prototyping. These tools ad-hoc and adaptive approaches toand finite and has ultimately helped facilitate the identification of prob- inquiry, synthesis and expression thatus to survive. lems and allow us to creatively solve leverages the power of intuition. for them. This process comes with aDesign Thinking is a reflection of this “responsibility to shape the future,” Design Thinking is about seekingculture and evolution – it is driven by as businesses often have, where we out possibilities and demonstratingmodes of inquiry and expression that need to acknowledge and act upon the willingness to make inexpensiveare accessible, functional, attractive, this human need for meaning, identity mistakes to expand one’s scope ofsustainable and iterative. In that and connectivity. thought and work. Ultimately Designregard, the culture behind Design Thinking is a bridge builder, an inter-Thinking and the customs, values Codified through language, Design face that brings us together, helpingand beliefs involved are potentially Thinking often requires communica- us to shrink the gaps between peoplemore empathetic, human centered tion that differs from other cultures and processes, customers and theand courageous when compared and disciplines. Design Thinking company. As a new concept, Designto business management. Design expresses itself through common and Thinking needed to be carefullyThinking’s mode of inquiry and familiar modes, mediums, traits and adopted and integrated with tradi-expression is intentionally more ac- artifacts such as sketching, mapping, tional business management prac-cessible and human-centric. Design model making, prototyping, anima- tice. It should not be exploited as aThinking speaks many languages. tions and dramatizations that can marketing tool, tactic or an excuse give form and meaning to Design for creative ideas to avoid analytical-A multi-lingualism, multi-functional Thinking. based criticism or common senseand multi-perspective approach to business logic. It should be posi-sensemaking and collaboration has Design Thinking needs to be seen as tioned as a creative logic tool thatinfluenced many of the principles a culture – it is not just what market- can facilitate innovation and strategicinherent in Design Thinking. Design ers and designers do, or how their transformation.Thinking has the power to influence work is organized, it also includesour core values, our identity, our ex- the effect it has in many other fields.pectations and our view of the world. We have to acknowledge that design thinking has been popularized – held up as a “cure-all” – and on some level, is being exploited rather than properly applied. From a metacogni- tive perspective, Design Thinking is a wrapper, an umbrella, a network of many types of “thought.” It is part of a larger cultural phenomenon that has emerged and will continue to evolve.Copyright 2011 Idea Couture Inc.
  5. 5. 05 harvarD graDuaTe sChool of Design Design Thinking for CreaTiviTy exeCuTive eDuCaTion anD Business innovaTion series/APPlIeDDeSIgnThInkIng Applied Design Thinking in busi- ness problem solving incorporatesIn mental models, tools, processes and techniques from design, engineering, economics, the humanities and social sciences to help identify, define andBuSIneSS address business challenges (i.e. strategic planning, product devel- opment, innovation and corporate social responsibility). This integration, when executed correctly, forms aProBlem highly productive dynamic between traditional business management approaches and design approaches, complementing and enhancing oneSolVIng another in a symbiotic fashion. The increased adoption of multidis- ciplinary approaches to business problem solving, including the ap- plication of Design Thinking, helps organizations fill in critical, and oftenIdris Mootee overlooked, knowledge gaps and in- formation deficiencies. By combining the two, organizations establish more complete and ultimately competitive Applying Design Thinking to business problem bodies of actionable knowledge andsolving empowers individuals and organizations to insights that allows for a human- centric and future-oriented approach.better understand their competitive and operation- This approach does not discount oral environment; the values, beliefs and behaviors diminish the value of traditional andof people; the driving forces and key influencers other analytical business methods in problem solving, rather, by leveraginginvolved; the strategic and tactical options therein; the best qualities of both businessand the systemic issues behind these not neces- and Design Thinking it establishes a more sensitive, powerful and potentsarily well defined problems. This process enables analytical tool set that escalates ourorganizations to identify strategic options in order thinking to a new level. This results in a more holistic perspective andto make better more informed decisions even in learning experience that is meaning-the face of extreme ambiguity. ful, valid and practical.Copyright 2011 Idea Couture Inc.
  6. 6. 06 harvarD graDuaTe sChool of Design Design Thinking for CreaTiviTy exeCuTive eDuCaTion anD Business innovaTion seriesIntroducing Design Thinking The following are ten of the core /4 Design Thinking integrates ele-to business management Design Thinking principles that ments of foresight and anticipa-also has a positive effect on should be considered when it is tory imagination into the strategicorganizational culture – it used in the context of business and planning process. It opens up thereveals and introduces new management: future and invites us to explorebehaviors and it challenges uncertainties. It encourages uspeople to communicate and /1 Design Thinking is action oriented. to be comfortable with workinglearn in new ways while It proposes a cross-disciplinary with many unknowns. Design learning-by-doing approach to Thinking expects us to copeempowering them (through problem solving. It allows us to with inadequate information andthe adoption of tools, tech- multiple unknowns in the process accommodate varied interestsniques and culture) to think and abilities through hands-on of discovering and creating adifferently. and “applied” learning experi- tangible outcome. ences between many individuals.Organizational structure, reporting A big part of Design Thinking is /5 Design Thinking is a dynamichierarchies and processes are Design Doing. It is, by nature, constructive process that isconsidered hard management and getting your hands dirty and trying iterative in nature. It requiresDesign Thinking can fill the role things instead of being an arm- ongoing definition, redefinition,of the soft management system – chair strategist. representation, assessment andthe creativity, sensibility and social visualization. It is a continuousbonding that holds an organizationtogether. /2 Design Thinking is comfortable learning experience arising out with change, is disruptive and of a need to obtain and correctly provocative by nature, and apply knowledge and insights toThe principles and techniques of achieve goals that may change as promotes new ways of lookingDesign Thinking are rooted in and more in depth knowledge of the at problems, often through newdistributed throughout the design problem is acquired. Here, proto- lenses. The strategic framing ofcommunity and is not necessarily typing and the creation of tangible complex and ambiguous issuesa subject area you will find in a text- “sharable” artifacts becomes requires thinking approachesbook. Design Thinking is becoming an import piece of the Design that are free from organizationalmore widely recognized, but it is Thinking tool kit. dogmas, codified limitations andstill not fully understood, even by old assumptions. A large part ofaudiences that already subscribe the Design Thinking process is /6 Design Thinking promotes empathy.to its qualities and principles. to step out of conventional roles It puts users at the very core of and escape from existing dogmas everything. It encourages the use in order to explore new frames of tools to help us communicate of thought and approaches to with people in order to better problem solving. understand their behaviors and expectations; the values, motiva- /3 Design Thinking is human-centric tions and needs that surround and and is always focused on under- drive them. And we can use these standing the customer’s or insights to develop new knowl- end-user’s needs, including edge through creative learning unarticulated, unmet and latent needs. To do this, Design Thinking employs various observational research techniques as well as design tools, such as journey mapping, to systematically think and learn about the needs, tasks, steps or milestones of a process.Copyright 2011 Idea Couture Inc.
  7. 7. 07 harvarD graDuaTe sChool of Design Design Thinking for CreaTiviTy exeCuTive eDuCaTion anD Business innovaTion series and experimentation./7 Design Thinking can greatly reduce risks for developing new products or services. The common saying “fail early and fail often” should not be a part using Design Thinking in of the core Design Thinking values. There are many benefits in learning from business problem solving small failures, but applied Design Thinking practices should help reduce risks, contexts can help to including technology, market and customer risks. Failure is not encouraged significantly fill in knowledge at any stage – the key is to use the principles of Design Thinking to manage gaps while inspiring new risks. perspectives, framing better questions and driving more/8 Design Thinking can create meanings. Power Point and Excel spreadsheets competitive answers and are very limited in their ability to communicate all meaning. Creating mean- solutions. ing is the hardest part of the design process and the communication tools employed by Design Thinking (maps, models, sketches and stories) help to capture and express the information required to form and socialize mean- ing. Arriving at this is not easy but emerges through multiple iterations and conversations./9 Design Thinking as organizational culture can bring enterprise creativity and knowledge management to the next level. It helps to foster a culture that embraces questioning, challenge and discovery including frequent reflection- in-action, celebrating creativity, embracing ambiguity and visual sense-making (interactions with physical objects as well as people). A Design Thinking orga- nization creates strong “inspirationalization” and “sensibility” to give tangibility to the emotional contract that employees can have with organizations./10 Design Thinking as the new “Competitive Logic of Business Strategy.” This is the most complementary practice that can be applied side by side with Michael Porter’s theory of Competitive Strategy. It allows companies to apply them to create new products, experiences, processes and business models beyond simply what works and turns them into something people desire – a truly sustainable competitive advantage through innovation.The principles listed above are a sample of Design Thinking’s qualities – its tone,culture and approach to problem solving – their use and application in businessproblem solving contexts (in addition to traditional methods) can help to significantlyfill in knowledge gaps while inspiring new perspectives, framing better questionsand driving more competitive answers and solutions. Ultimately Design Thinkingapproaches increase an organization’s “sensitivity,” improve communicationbetween all stakeholders (internal & external), and enhance an organization’sability to process, synthesize and act upon the potential that is real, latent andinherent allowing for the constant extraction of economic and social value.Copyright 2011 Idea Couture Inc.