Design Thinking: Integrating Innovation, Customer Experience, and Brand Value Paperback – Nov 10 2009
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“A much-needed book, which paves the way towards a better understanding of design thinking and its power. A fundamental reading for all those who like to grasp the multifaceted nature of design.”—Roberto Verganti, author, Design Driven Innovation; professor of innovation, Poitecnico di Milano
"In this compilation of essays from many of design’s best thinkers, Lockwood pushes forward our understanding of the intersection of design and business. I found it a treat for both sides of my brain."—Roger Martin, author, The Opposable Mind; dean, The Rottman School of Management, University of Toronto
"This collection of work from some of the design industry's top thought leaders will further stimulate valuable discussion on how, through collaborative and innovative thinking, we can design a better future for all societies and business."—Stefano Marzano, president, Philips Design
"The practical value of 'Design Thinking' for managers isn't just in its impressive breadth and scope. The design perspectives and principles it articulates are essential for organizations looking to intensify their innovations and animate their brands. Cogent, readable and usable, this book makes design investment a smart choice."—Michael Schrage, author, Serious Play; fellow, MIT Sloan School of Management
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In this volume, we have an anthology of essays by 31 contributors, including Thomas Lockwood who also served as editor. Although there is commendable variety and diversity among the essays, Lockwood suggests that there are "several key tenets of design thinking that seem to be common. The first is to develop a deep understanding of the consumer based on fieldwork research...Having the users involved early on also makes it possible to get user evaluations of a concept. Therefore, a second important aspect of design thinking is collaboration, both with the users and through forming multidisciplinary teams...The third part is to accelerate learning through visualization, hands-on experimentation, and creating quick prototypes, which are made as simple3 as possible in order to get usable feedback...The fifth and last aspect, which may not be on everyone's list but which I endorse, is the importance of the concurrent business analysis integrated during the process rather than added on later or used to limit creative ideations.Read more ›
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Perhaps that's a bit overly simplistic, but it's close to essence of it. How do I know? Because I spent many hours reading this book and others (including Change By Design), browsing web sites and blogs, and ultimately hiring a design thinking consulting to give my team an introduction.
What this book offers:
- A collection of discrete essays by different authors organized around different themes, each showing how design thinking can be applied to different areas of business, such strategy, brand, and service design
- A brief overview of what design thinking is
What you won't get - or at least I didn't
- Hands on guidance on how exactly to start changing your own processes to incorporate Design Thinking
- A single coherent view of design thinking
I haven't really found a great resource yet for that. Change By Design, probably the best known in this area, didn't help me any more than this book. In both cases, I found the books somewhat inspiring, informational, provocative, but not quite operational. It was helpful to me to keep reading various other thinkers talk about service design and design thinking, but this isn't a How To book.
Overall, the book helped round out some of my understanding about design thinking, and helped solidify my theory of service design. A better introduction might be some of the resources available from Standford's design thinking web-site, or even the chapter on Design from a somewhat unrelated book titled Business Model Generation. People already familiar with design thinking may find this stimulating and may deepen their understanding of various applications.
First, although it starts with a grandiloquent dedication to the design thinkers of today who contribute to the need for social, economic and environmental improvement "with a spirit of goodness", there is precious little evidence in this volume of designers' ability to tackle the big issues and the associated dilemmas. The book consists of 23 short essays, grouped in four sections. The first section is devoted to more general issues of design culture and design management. Paradoxically, despite the grand ambitions designers have been under increasing pressure to justify the value they bring to the business. Hence the need for creating a culture that is sympathetic to design and to develop tools to manage a design organisation and to visualise its value-added. This is for me the most interesting part of the book, with valuable contributions from key people in the design community (Brigitte Borja de Mozota, Rachel Cooper and Heather Fraser). The latter part of the book focuses on "Building Brands", "Service Design" and "Customer Experiences" respectively. Most of the stuff discussed here by design and brand consultants squarely belongs to the remit of traditional, commercially-driven design. For those wanting a compendium of contemporary design practices in these realms, the book may offer a few interesting nuggets. But in my opinion reading about how the re-introduction of the colour yellow in Coke's visual identity re-energised the brand is a disappointing contrast with the lofty ambition to reframe some of the big issues of our time.
Furthermore, I am not convinced that design thinking by definition translates in the ability to fundamentally reframe strategic challenges. The toolbox is rich in observational and visualisation tools but rather light on the more conceptual side of the practice. Designers are only just coming to grips with sophisticated instruments such as future scenarios and systems analysis. These are tools that talented strategists have been using for decades (for example, Richard Normann's "Reframing Business" and Ramirez and Normann's "Designing Interactive Strategy" ought to be part of each design thinker's curriculum). If design wants to steer away from the anecdotal and really wants to come to grips with the systemic, it will have to build on systems thinking and strategy development as rich and venerable disciplines in their own right.
Finally, it seems to me the scope of design thinking ought to be fundamentally critical. When design simply parrots the brainless hyperbole that is so distinctive of much of the management literature it becomes bland and superfluous. When it succumbs to capitalist orthodoxy it becomes just another clever way of social engineering. The stakes introduced by design thinking are of an altogether different order. In Bruce Mau's seminal "Life Style", Sanford Kwinter argued that design's mission was "to free life of routine, to place it into syncopation so that it can find new, entirely unexpected patterns of unfolding." Hence, "what is most beautiful about it, in fact, might well be its potential to magnify risk". This is as antithetical to controlling, risk-averse corporate logic as you can get. For me, design thinking is an ethos rather than "a process". It is basically about adopting a voluntaristic, pragmatically utopian stance. Design thinking is the desire to flee fatalism, "analysis by paralysis", the straightjacket of the bottom-line and "death by committee" by taking on an almost Nietzschean, heroically-affirmative position. To authentically defend that position from within a discipline that is to a large extent legitimised by the corporate world and provides global capitalism with its "lingua franca" (products, images) comes with interesting paradoxes and dilemmas. Bruce Mau, in his "Life Style", wrestled openly with those issues. However, Lockwood's "Design Thinking" does not, which is why ultimately the argument is much less compelling than it could have been. 3 stars.
In this volume, we have an anthology of essays by 31 contributors, including Thomas Lockwood who also served as editor. Although there is commendable variety and diversity among the essays, Lockwood suggests that there are "several key tenets of design thinking that seem to be common. The first is to develop a deep understanding of the consumer based on fieldwork research...Having the users involved early on also makes it possible to get user evaluations of a concept. Therefore, a second important aspect of design thinking is collaboration, both with the users and through forming multidisciplinary teams...The third part is to accelerate learning through visualization, hands-on experimentation, and creating quick prototypes, which are made as simple3 as possible in order to get usable feedback...The fifth and last aspect, which may not be on everyone's list but which I endorse, is the importance of the concurrent business analysis integrated during the process rather than added on later or used to limit creative ideations. This can be a tricky balance, but the key is to enable integrative thinking by combining the creative ideas with more traditional strategic aspects in order to learn from a more complete and diverse point of view."
In one of his books, The Opposable Mind, Roger Marin explains integrative thinking as being "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in one's head and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other," be able to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea." For example, those involved in a major project that requires highly innovative thinking would introduce "multiple working hypotheses" when required to make especially complicated decisions. Those who have mastered integrative thinking would not merely tolerate contradictory points of view, they would encourage them. Only in this way could they and their associates "face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension [whatever its causes may be] in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each."
Lockwood duly acknowledges that, like many other design disciplines, "design thinking in services involves multidisciplinary teamwork, prototyping as a means of dialogue, open design architectures, and integration between functional and emotional connections. Yet designing for services does require a somewhat different mindset than for a more static product design. In essence, although people are at the center of each, product design is generally about the object whereas service design is about the journey...The innovation imperative celebrates nonlinear behavior and presents many challenges - not just for the product and services development, but also to inspire ideas for new initiatives."
In Design Is How It Works, Jay Greene suggests, "Let's demystify design. First, it's important to understand that design, at least the way I'm using the term, isn't merely about style and form. Those are important. But design is really about the way products and services come to life. The companies that build the most enduring relationships with customers often do so by creating an environment where design flourishes. They have leadership that embraces design, executives who trust their gut and their employees as much as they trust all the data they receive abut their business. To really grasp design is to intuit what customers want, often before customers even know what they want it. That's not something you can learn in a focus group or an online survey."
One way or another, the 31 contributors to this volume have (together) achieved two immensely important objectives: they have helped to demystify traditional perspectives on design, and, they have helped to increase our understanding and appreciation of what design thinking can accomplish. More specifically, Tim brown asserts, it is a discipline "that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a variable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity."
The book provides a living landscape for innovators. It's up to us to understand and respect the tenets set forth on the book, and leverage them in our attempts to make the world a better place. Because we're working with a living landscape, we should also dedicate ourselves to nurturing and enhancing the concepts presented, and to mentoring others in their use.
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