Self Help

Change by Design - Brown, Tim

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Matheus Puppe

· 42 min read

Here is a summary of the key points from the book Change by Design by Tim Brown:

  • Design thinking offers a human-centered, integrative approach to innovation that combines desirable, feasible, and viable solutions. It taps into innate human capacities for intuition, pattern recognition, storytelling, and emotion.

  • Design thinking moves beyond purely analytical problem-solving and brainstorming. It provides tools and processes that anyone can use to generate breakthrough ideas and implement them for impact.

  • Design thinking integrates technology feasibility, business viability, and human desirability. It balances rational and intuitive thinking.

  • Design thinking begins with skills designers have developed to match human needs with available resources within practical constraints. The aim is to apply these tools more broadly to tackle global challenges.

  • The author argues we need new choices and ideas to address issues like health, poverty, education, and sustainability that exceed our current creative capacity. Purely technocentric and analytical approaches are insufficient.

  • Design thinking relies on prototyping to learn through doing. It spreads new ideas through compelling storytelling. At its core is a creative, human-centered mindset beyond just aesthetics.

  • The author advocates applying design thinking more widely in business and society. He traces his evolution from design practitioner to recognizing the power of design thinking to address complex challenges.

  • In 2004, Shimano was struggling with flat growth in its high-end bike market segments in the U.S. They invited IDEO to collaborate on new ideas.

  • Instead of just designing new bike parts, IDEO took a human-centered approach to understand why most Americans don’t ride bikes as adults.

  • Through research, they found people had fond childhood memories of riding bikes, but were deterred as adults by complex/expensive bikes, intimidating bike shops, danger of roads, and bike maintenance.

  • This led IDEO to identify an untapped market for simple, easy-to-use bikes that recapture the childhood joy of riding.

  • They conceived “coasting” bikes - simple with no handlebar controls, back-pedal brakes, comfy seat, puncture-resistant tires, auto-shifting gears.

  • Three major bike brands developed new bikes incorporating Shimano’s innovative components.

  • IDEO also created retailer strategies, branding, partnerships to promote coastal biking as fun and accessible.

  • This human-centered, holistic approach expanded Shimano’s thinking beyond just developing new parts to growing bike riding overall.

  • Design thinking involves an iterative, nonlinear process with overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. The spaces are inspiration (the motivation), ideation (generating and developing ideas), and implementation (bringing ideas to market).

  • Projects may loop back through these spaces as the team refines ideas and explores new directions. This exploratory process allows for unexpected discoveries which can lead to revisiting assumptions.

  • Design thinkers willingly embrace constraints which provide a framework for evaluating ideas. The constraints are feasibility, viability, and desirability.

  • Most companies approach new ideas by focusing on what fits their existing business model (viability) or through technological breakthroughs (feasibility). Design thinkers start with human needs and desires (desirability).

  • Design projects have a beginning, middle and end which anchors them to reality. This project focus allows design thinkers to navigate between constraints to find creative solutions.

  • A well-defined project brief provides clarity, direction, and constraints that help sustain creative energy. The “Innovate or Die” bike contest is a good example, where tight deadlines and limitations sparked creative solutions.

  • In contrast, over-constrained briefs lead to incremental improvements at best. Overly vague briefs leave teams wandering aimlessly.

  • The art of the brief is to establish realistic goals without being too concrete or too broad. This leaves room for interpretation, exploration and discovery.

  • Procter & Gamble has used well-crafted briefs to inspire significant innovation, not just incremental improvements. Their Home Care division produced 350 concepts and 60 prototypes from one brief.

  • Design thinking needs to happen on both sides - the design team and the client. Overly vague or restrictive briefs diminish results.

  • Diverse, interdisciplinary teams unlock creativity, combining expertise in technology, business, human behavior, and more. Effective team members possess depth of skill in their field as well as empathy, optimism and collaboration skills.

  • Staffing interdisciplinary teams requires finding T-shaped people - deep skills in their field, and the empathy and confidence to collaborate across disciplines.

  • Design thinkers have a unique mix of skills - they are T-shaped creatives who combine expertise in design with knowledge in other disciplines like business, engineering, etc. Organizations should seek out these people.

  • Innovation happens in small, focused teams. Larger teams tend to get bogged down in groupthink and bureaucracy. Effective collaboration requires small interdisciplinary teams working in networks.

  • Remote collaboration is challenging. Technology like videoconferencing helps but doesn’t fully substitute for in-person interaction. Newer tools like telepresence systems, instant messaging, and social networks enable more natural remote teamwork.

  • Innovative cultures encourage risk-taking, learning through failure, and give people latitude to explore ideas. They break down barriers between groups like designers and business people. Physical spaces and policies should promote creative collaboration across disciplines.

  • Design thinkers need to put people first and focus on understanding human needs and behaviors. The job of the designer is to “convert need into demand” by figuring out what people want and giving it to them.

  • Human-centered design is important for innovation but there are few compelling stories of it being done well. Companies need to learn how to deeply understand their customers through observation and empathy.

  • An example is a travel agent who created her own “workaround” for conference calls by arranging multiple phones around her desk, rather than using her company’s complicated phone system. Her behavior was meaningful for designers to understand.

  • Designers need to return human beings to the center of the process. Rather than making assumptions, they should view behaviors as meaningful and aim to uncover latent needs through close observation of and empathy with customers. This human-centered approach is key for putting people first and driving successful innovations.

  • Insight is a critical source of design thinking. It often comes from observing how people improvise solutions in their daily lives, not from surveys or focus groups asking what they want. Watching people’s actual behaviors and “thoughtless acts” can reveal unarticulated needs.

  • Observation is key to gaining insight. Designers should watch what people do and listen to what they don’t say. Look for “extreme users” on the margins rather than the average. Children and experts can provide insight on mainstream products.

  • Many social scientists now work in business applying academic methods to gain insight. For example, Intel’s research group uses ethnographic observation to study long-term trends affecting their business.

  • Empathy allows design thinkers to frame problems from the user’s perspective. Empathy comes from engagement, not detached analysis. Deep hanging out and immersion helps designers internalize users’ experiences.

  • Insight, observation and empathy are mutually reinforcing elements of successful design programs. Together they uncover latent needs and point toward creative solutions. The creative process generates new ideas triggered more by real-world observation than expert analysis.

Here are the key insights from the passage:

  • Companies like Intel and Nokia sponsor social scientists to study cultural practices around the world, because only a small percentage of the global population currently has access to technology. These companies want to understand how the “next 10%” will use technology when they come online.

  • Ethnographers like Jan Chipchase conduct exploratory field research to uncover insights that can inspire future products and offerings over the next 3-15 years. This is different from short-term trendspotting or market research.

  • Academics are motivated by scientific objectives, while corporate researchers want practical insights to inspire future products. A new breed of ethnographers works on cross-disciplinary teams with designers and engineers, providing insights throughout a project.

  • Experiencing users’ lives first-hand builds empathy and reveals insights you can’t get just from detached observation. For example, an IDEO designer checked into a hospital emergency room to experience it as a patient would.

  • Empathy helps designers move beyond thinking of people as statistics and understand their behaviors and coping strategies. It bridges insight into users’ experiences that can inspire better solutions.

  • A design team studying a hospital’s emergency room experience realized two competing narratives were at play: the hospital’s focus on medical/administrative tasks vs. the patient’s stressful experience. This led them to conclude the hospital needed more empathetic concern for patients.

  • The team gained insights into the patient experience at multiple levels: physical environment, cognitive experience, and emotional needs. This empathy allowed them to identify latent needs and imagine improvements.

  • Cognitive understanding of the ordinary/familiar helped early GUI developers create the desktop metaphor. Emotional understanding helps turn customers into advocates rather than adversaries.

  • Designers must understand not just individuals but group interactions and effects. Tools like network analysis and video ethnography reveal how groups really operate.

  • The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Design thinkers consider both individual needs and group dynamics to create solutions.

In summary, deep empathy through observing and experiencing users’ realities allows designers to identify unarticulated needs. Understanding both individual and group perspectives leads to more holistic, human-centered solutions.

  • Design thinking relies on creative processes that do not follow a linear, step-by-step approach. Rather, it involves iteration, experimentation, and improvisation.

  • Bringing clients into the design process can be messy but leads to better results because they experience firsthand the twists and turns of creative problem solving.

  • Designers utilize a variety of creative techniques like brainstorming, prototyping, and experimentation to generate innovative solutions. This can appear chaotic to those accustomed to more analytical processes.

  • Organizations need to embrace both creative, right-brain thinking as well as analytical, left-brain thinking. Design thinking provides the synthesis between the two that generates breakthrough innovations.

  • There is no defined sequence of steps that guarantees innovation. Design thinking leverages productive creativity, not prepackaged process. Diverse viewpoints and openness to the process leads to the best ideas.

  • Design thinking is ultimately about mindset, culture, and values that foster creativity. While certain techniques are useful, rigidity can undermine the free flow of ideas central to the design thinking approach.

The key message is that design thinking brings together creative and analytical approaches through an iterative, nonlinear process focused on solving real user needs. Embracing the messiness and open-ended nature of creative exploration enables the innovative breakthroughs not possible with only linear thinking.

  • Design thinking involves moving through three overlapping spaces: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Insights and ideas can arrive at any time, so the process is iterative rather than completely linear.

  • A design project typically cycles between periods of unstructured experimentation and intense focus, as well as grappling with big ideas versus sorting through details. It’s important to recognize and accept these emotional ups and downs.

  • Convergent thinking narrows down possibilities to arrive at a solution, while divergent thinking expands possibilities to generate new ideas. Design thinking combines both, iterating between divergent and convergent phases.

  • Analysis breaks down problems into components for understanding, while synthesis puts ideas together into new wholes. Both are crucial.

  • Synthesis involves finding meaningful patterns in data and crafting a compelling narrative, requiring creative skills. It leads to higher-level synthesis of potentially conflicting goals.

  • Design thinking is a dance between inspiration, analysis, ideation, synthesis, and implementation. With the right partners and intuition, the process leads to innovative outcomes.

  • Design thinking involves continuous oscillation between divergent and convergent thinking, and between analytical and synthetic processes. But this alone is not enough - the organizational culture must be prepared to support it.

  • Design-focused organizations like Charles and Ray Eames’ studio and today’s Google encourage experimentation and risk-taking. Failures are seen as learning experiences, not wasteful.

  • Ideas should emerge from the whole organization, not just designers. Favored ideas gain a vocal following before getting organizational support.

  • Senior leadership provides guidance but allows experimentation to bloom. Employees understand the overarching vision.

  • John Mackey of Whole Foods enables bottom-up experimentation within an aligned vision.

  • For innovation to thrive, a culture of optimism is essential. Curiosity and risk-taking are smothered without it.

  • The will to experiment depends on the unshakable belief that things could be better.

  • Design thinking requires optimism and confidence that new ideas can be created to serve unmet needs. Leaders should build trust and ensure ideas get a fair hearing.

  • Brainstorming has rules like deferring judgment, encouraging wild ideas, and building on others’ ideas. It helps break out of structure and open up new ideas.

  • Visual thinking through drawing forces decisions and reveals functional and emotional aspects of ideas. It’s important for creative problem solving.

  • Post-it notes helped capture early insights in design thinking and then organize them into patterns. They epitomize the divergence and convergence of the design thinking process.

  • Divergent thinking (brainstorming, visual thinking, etc.) generates creative options, but design teams must use convergent thinking to make choices and move from ideas to solutions.

  • Simple tools like Post-it notes can be very effective for extracting group insights and building consensus on the best ideas. The “butterfly test” is an example of using Post-its to identify the most popular ideas.

  • Deadlines are crucial for moving from divergent exploration to convergent decision-making. They provide fixed points for evaluation and selection of ideas.

  • Integrative, “both/and” thinking allows design thinkers to hold multiple ideas in tension and synthesize creative solutions. This builds on the messiness and complexity of the design process.

  • Prototyping is central to design thinking. It translates ideas into physical forms that can be shared, tested and improved. Our hands and brains work together through prototyping.

  • Overall, design thinking integrates divergent and convergent phases, analytical and emotional thinking, individual creativity and group consensus into a creative process for innovation.

  • Early experiences with creative tools like Froebel blocks can ignite a lifelong passion for design and creativity. Architects Charles and Ray Eames used decades of prototyping and experimentation to reinvent 20th century furniture.

  • Prototyping accelerates the creative process by allowing quick, rough, and cheap exploration of many ideas in parallel. It’s about learning and refining, not creating a finished product.

  • Prototypes should be fast, rough, and cheap - just enough fidelity to elicit useful feedback. Overinvestment in too-refined prototypes can limit creativity.

  • Anything that makes an idea tangible for exploration and feedback is a prototype, including sketches, foam models, roleplaying, storyboards, and scenarios.

  • Prototyping non-physical experiences like services, software, and organizational systems is just as important. Scenarios act as prototypes by envisioning hypothetical user experiences.

  • The key is learning as much as possible early on through rough prototyping instead of detailed specifications and planning. “Enough is enough” to move forward.

  • Prototyping is a way to give form to an idea, learn from it, evaluate it, and improve upon it. It helps prevent getting lost in details and reminds us that design is about transactions between people and things.

  • For services, a “customer journey” can chart the stages a customer goes through, clarifying all the touchpoints where the customer interacts with the service. This reveals opportunities to provide value.

  • Role playing and improvisational acting can help prototype experiential services by having people act out scenarios in a mock physical space. This generates insights not possible through surveys or simulations.

  • Prototyping “in the wild” by giving prototypes to real users reveals how ideas survive and adapt in the real world. T-Mobile prototyped social network services on phones in Europe to quickly learn which idea worked better.

  • Virtual worlds like Second Life allow companies to prototype brands and services to get consumer feedback before investing in the real thing. This reaches many prospective customers quickly.

Here are the key points about prototyping from the passage:

  • Prototyping can help bring abstract ideas and strategies to life in a tangible way that allows an organization to understand and engage with them.

  • HBO used prototypes to help executives visualize how customers might interact with TV content across different devices in the future. This helped them understand the opportunities and challenges of their new technology-agnostic strategy.

  • Prototyping new organizational structures is difficult but can be very useful. IDEO prototyped a new organizational structure when reinventing itself, using workshops and “Big Ideas” to create initial prototypes.

  • Prototypes allow testing and learning - a successful prototype teaches you something even if it doesn’t work perfectly.

  • Organizations and strategies must constantly evolve, so prototypes help visualize future possibilities and test them. Everything involving organizational change is essentially a prototype.

The key points are that prototyping makes abstract ideas tangible, helps visualize future possibilities, and enables testing and learning even if the prototypes are imperfect. This allows organizations to experiment with change and evolution effectively.

  • We now live in an “experience economy” where people seek out meaningful, emotionally resonant experiences rather than just functional products and services. Experiences imply active participation.

  • The best experiences are not scripted at corporate headquarters but delivered on the spot by service providers. Implementation is everything.

  • Experiences must be as finely crafted and precision-engineered as products. United Airlines transformed the typically unpleasant experience of boarding a plane into something social and enjoyable.

  • People now demand more than just reliable performance at an acceptable price. Products and services need to come together to create a great experience that connects emotionally.

  • Companies like Disney are masters at creating deeply memorable family experiences that go beyond just entertainment. The meaning of the “experience economy” is to tap into people’s search for meaning and emotional satisfaction once basic needs are met.

  • Design thinkers must understand that experiences happen over time and focus their efforts on designing the entire arc of an experience, with careful attention to touchpoints and transitions.

  • The passage discusses a shift from passive consumption to active participation in experiences. Industrialization led to standardized products and passive consumers, but now people want more engagement.

  • William Morris criticized industrialization for severing art from utility and degrading the environment. He championed craftsmanship and meaningful experiences.

  • Lawrence Lessig shows how we are moving from consuming mass media to creating our own digital experiences, using music as an example.

  • Companies now know they can’t just treat people as passive consumers. Participatory design is becoming the norm for new products and experiences.

  • Disneyland is an early example of experience design at scale. Whole Foods, Virgin America, and the Mayo Clinic’s SPARC Innovation Program also aim to create engaging experiences that invite participation.

  • From playful categories like theme parks to serious ones like healthcare, experiences can be designed to actively involve consumers rather than treating them passively. The key is empathy, engagement and participation.

  • Design thinking can be applied not just to products and experiences, but also to innovation processes themselves. This allows organizations to build cultures of innovation.

  • Getting people to change behaviors is hard, but building on existing familiar behaviors can make adoption of new innovations easier. Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” program built on people’s habits of rounding up or saving spare change to encourage more saving.

  • Creating an exceptional experience culture requires empowering all employees to anticipate customer needs and deliver personalized, tailored experiences. Ritz-Carlton aimed to scale this across their hotels through “Scenography” - providing tools and examples for local managers to craft unique experiences.

  • Execution of innovative ideas matters just as much as ideation. Experiences are designed and delivered through many small decisions, not just big ideas. Attention to detail creates emotional connections and memorable experiences.

In summary, applying design thinking to innovation processes and organizational culture, not just end products, allows the delivery of compelling user experiences at scale through empowered employees and excellence in execution.

  • The Cool Biz campaign in Japan used storytelling to get people engaged in meeting Japan’s greenhouse gas reduction goals under the Kyoto Protocol.

  • The advertising agency Hakuhodo was brought in by the Ministry of the Environment to create a campaign to mobilize Japanese society.

  • Hakuhodo identified 6 key everyday activities that people could change to reduce emissions, including raising air conditioner temperatures in summer/lowering in winter, conserving water, driving less aggressively, choosing eco-friendly products, avoiding plastic bags, and turning off electronics.

  • The first year focused on getting offices to raise air conditioner temperatures from a very cold 26C to a more moderate 28C to save energy. This required getting conservative Japanese businessmen to dress more casually in summer.

  • Rather than a media campaign, Hakuhodo crafted a powerful story by getting the Prime Minister to dress casually and lead by example. This shifted social norms and made “Cool Biz” a recognized slogan among 95% of Japanese in one year.

  • The campaign succeeded by using the power of storytelling to connect the issue with Japanese values of collective action, and getting a prominent leader on board to model the desired behavior.

  • Storytelling is a uniquely human trait that has developed along with human consciousness, language, and society. Spreading ideas through stories has enabled the expansion of social structures throughout history.

  • Storytelling plays an important role in human-centered design thinking. It helps provide context and meaning for ideas. Techniques like ethnographic fieldwork, synthesizing data, and designing experiences all involve elements of storytelling.

  • “Designing with time” by using narrative techniques is key for interaction designers. They design dynamic sequences of events that unfold over time, rather than static objects. Methods like storyboards and scenarios help visualize ideas unfolding.

  • Designers can use stories and experiences that engage people over time to tackle problems like medical adherence. Rather than just promote a product, they can map out a patient’s journey and identify opportunities to provide reinforcement.

  • Telling compelling stories helps gain acceptance for new ideas within an organization and spread ideas more broadly. Stories engage people emotionally and help them see themselves in the narrative. This helps overcome resistance to new ideas.

  • New ideas face many obstacles within large organizations. They challenge the status quo, threaten existing successes, take resources from other programs, and present managers with difficult choices. It’s remarkable that new ideas make it through at all.

  • Good stories satisfy a need in a powerful way. They give characters purpose, involve the audience, provide convincing details grounded in reality, and leave no doubt the organization can make it happen. This takes skill and imagination.

  • Design thinking can create compelling stories to propagate new ideas, not just new products. Intel’s “Future Vision” videos envisioned mobile computing scenarios to shift perceptions. Good storytelling spreads ideas at low cost.

  • Traditional advertising struggles to communicate new ideas effectively today. People are overwhelmed by choice and tune out blasts of info. Ideas need meaningful stories so audiences become storytellers themselves. Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” built on existing habits to turn customers into propagandists.

  • Design thinking engages audiences over time through effective storytelling. This helps new ideas propagate by turning audiences into storytellers. Skillful narratives convince people to try new ideas and share them.

The article discusses how effective storytelling is an important part of design thinking. It provides examples of how companies like BMW, Panasonic, and the American Red Cross have used storytelling and design challenges to market their products and services in more creative and human-centered ways.

Key points:

  • BMW relied on clever storytelling rather than typical car ads to market the MINI in the US. Their “Let’s motor!” campaign got people talking and engaged with the brand’s story.

  • Panasonic energized sales of its Oxyride battery by posing a design challenge to student engineers to build a battery-powered plane. The media coverage was worth millions.

  • Design challenges unleash competition and get people engaged as participants rather than passive onlookers.

  • The American Red Cross applied design thinking to increase blood donations. Observing donors led them to focus on the personal stories and motivations behind giving blood rather than just redesigning the environment.

  • Effective storytelling starts early and weaves a narrative through the entire innovation process rather than just documenting at the end. Stories also spread when the audience picks them up and carries them forward.

  • Conventional advertising struggles today due to excess goods/info and more sophisticated consumers. Storytelling engages people ongoingly rather than just selling in 30 seconds.

  • Nokia used design thinking to reinvent itself as a service provider rather than just a hardware company. Teams of technologists, anthropologists and designers studied how people were communicating and sharing information, and proposed new mobile services focused on creativity, discovery and sharing. This led to Nokia’s launch of Ovi, a multimedia service accessible across devices.

  • Design thinking emerged after WWII as a systematic approach to innovation, moving from government wartime investments to corporate R&D labs. Initially focused on manufacturing consumer goods, it expanded to high-tech like computing and the internet.

  • However, large companies are finding that relying solely on technical expertise is less effective today. Small tech startups often have an advantage. Design thinking offers a human-centered, desirability-focused approach to help established companies innovate by leveraging existing assets like customer base, brands, distribution.

  • At IDEO, business school grads Diego Rodriguez and Ryan Jacoby introduced design thinking frameworks to manage innovation portfolios. This balances short and long-term projects across incremental improvements and breakthroughs.

In summary, design thinking evolved as a innovation methodology and helps large companies like Nokia reinvent themselves by focusing on human needs rather than just technical expertise. It brings a systematic approach to balancing incremental and breakthrough innovations.

  • Business school graduates are increasingly well-prepared for design thinking due to changes in MBA curriculums and programs that integrate design and business. Business expertise can complement design thinking.

  • Diego Rodriguez and Ryan Jacoby developed a “Ways to Grow” matrix that evaluates a company’s innovation efforts. It maps projects based on whether they involve existing or new offerings along one axis, and existing or new users on the other axis.

  • Most innovation efforts focus on incremental improvements to existing offerings for existing users. But companies also need “evolutionary” innovation that stretches their offerings in new directions, either through adapting products for new users or new offerings for existing users.

  • Truly revolutionary innovation that creates entirely new markets with both new users and offerings is rare, like the Walkman or iPod. Segway is an example of a promising but failed attempt at such disruptive innovation.

  • Companies need a balanced innovation portfolio across all four quadrants of incremental, evolutionary, and revolutionary innovation to stay competitive and withstand unpredictable events. Design thinking methods can help achieve this balance.

  • Companies are increasingly using design thinking to drive innovation and growth. Design thinking involves focusing on user needs and coming up with human-centered solutions.

  • Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett pioneered the use of design thinking at his company. He set up an internal think tank called Workplace Futures that uses ethnographic research and prototyping to understand user needs and come up with innovative workplace solutions.

  • This design thinking approach has led Steelcase to reorient from just selling furniture to providing complete workplace solutions. For example, the company’s Nurture division focuses on designing optimal healthcare environments through deep research and prototyping.

  • Design thinking relies on creativity as well as rigorous data-driven testing and research. Steelcase has conducted controlled studies with partners like Mayo Clinic to validate its healthcare environment concepts.

  • Beyond products, Steelcase is using design thinking to understand the future of workplaces as collaboration and digital work become more important. It was one of the first in its industry to promote digital technology for information sharing.

  • Design thinking needs to become part of a company’s DNA, not just be used for one-off workshops or projects. It requires organizational change to have an impact.

  • A.G. Lafley transformed P&G’s culture to focus on innovation and design. He increased design managers by 500%, built an Innovation Gym, created the “Connect and Develop” approach to external partnerships, and made innovation and design core strategies.

  • Transforming a company’s culture is easier when there are already designers on staff. For companies without designers, the challenge is greater as the talent base has to be built from scratch. Kaiser Permanente exemplifies this challenge.

  • Kaiser set out to improve healthcare quality from the patient and provider perspective. IDEO led workshops to teach Kaiser staff design thinking instead of hiring designers. Staff prototypes led to a new nurse shift change process involving patients.

  • The shift change improved efficiency and engagement. But sustaining change required a systematic approach - innovation workshops, pilots, leadership support, teams, dedicated spaces, and measurement.

  • Innovation can’t be turned on and off. Companies that cut innovation in downturns risk being left behind when markets recover. Downturns can reveal new needs. Design thinking can be profitable in recessions.

  • Design thinking needs to balance creative freedom and business needs for efficiency and predictability. The goal is integrating these demands while creating powerful innovations and companies.

  • Design thinking represents enlightened self-interest for companies to understand customers and meet their evolving needs, which drives profitability. Customers also have new expectations for participation and accountability.

  • Companies must yield some authority over the market to meet these expectations. This new social contract requires companies to adopt a more human-centered approach.

  • There is a blurring of the line between “products” and “services” as consumers expect more of an overall experience rather than just functional performance.

  • Design thinking is being applied at larger scales, moving from individual products/services to complex systems.

  • We are entering an era of limits where the cycle of mass production and consumption is no longer sustainable.

  • These trends point to the need for a new participatory social contract between companies and consumers where they work together, not in an adversarial way.

  • Service businesses have been slower to innovate than product companies, focusing more on people delivery rather than technological innovation.

  • Some exceptions like Four Seasons, Starbucks, and Richard Branson recognized service experience as central.

  • Technology is now replacing/augmenting service personnel in defining consumer experience (Amazon, Netflix etc.)

  • But technology alone doesn’t guarantee better service. Companies must continue to innovate around improving people’s experiences.

  • The key shift is recognizing that companies and consumers need to work together in a participatory way, focusing on the overall experience and service innovation.

  • Technology is advancing, allowing more convenient access to entertainment like movies through companies like Roku and LG building Netflix capability into devices.

  • Netflix has focused on improving the overall experience of using their service, not just the technology. They aim to guide customers through changes without frustrating or losing them.

  • Services are becoming more experience-focused like physical products. Companies should invest in innovation labs and human-centered design.

  • Airport security is an example of a problematic large system. Aligning goals of security staff and passengers is key - they should be partners, not adversaries.

  • Physical redesigns and staff training focusing on empathy and critical thinking can improve these experiences. Empower individuals within the system.

  • Companies like Best Buy and Toyota foster empathy between employees and customers, softening the distinction. Training helps leaders listen and staff contribute, benefiting both.

  • The key is designing flexible, evolving systems where every interaction builds empathy and innovation. Hand tools of design to implementers. Human-centered systems outperform top-down hierarchical ones.

  • Toyota promotes high levels of collaboration between leaders and employees through principles like direct observation, constant experimentation, and managers coaching rather than fixing. This resembles design thinking moving into business.

  • Successful systems like Wikipedia, Toyota, and Best Buy align participants toward common goals. Failed systems like DMVs often don’t provide efficient, respectful experiences.

  • Participation alone isn’t enough - new systems like Android and Zopa must also deliver high performance.

  • Design thinking can help create systems that balance economic and environmental sustainability. Tasks include:

  1. Informing people of sustainability issues through imagery and facts like An Inconvenient Truth and the Stern Report.

  2. Rethinking processes and systems to be more sustainable, like cradle-to-cradle design.

  3. Encouraging sustainable behaviors in individuals.

  • Overall, design thinking with its human-centered and systems-level perspective can promote the “massive change” needed for environmental and economic sustainability.

The work of visual artists like Chris Jordan and Edward Burtynsky uses scale and imagery to convey the impact of human activity on the environment in a visceral, emotional way. Design thinkers like Dr. Chris Luebkeman have also created tools like the Drivers of Change cards that present environmental issues clearly without being overwhelming. Companies like Pangea Organics and Amory Lovins’ Rocky Mountain Institute are rethinking business models and product design to be more sustainable from start to finish. But changing supply is not enough - consumer demand and behavior must also shift to be more conservation-focused. Efforts like the Department of Energy’s Shift Focus program recognized this and targeted messaging to connect with people’s values rather than assuming they already cared about efficiency.

Ultimately, the public must commit to design thinking just as companies are, taking responsibility and not waiting passively for choices to be handed to them. More design thinkers means more humane and sustainable solutions can emerge, even for major societal challenges. But this requires breaking the vicious circle of harmful design and embracing a positive reinforcing loop of design thinking.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • Designers today are increasingly applying their skills to tackle big global challenges like sustainability and poverty, rather than just commercial projects.

  • The greatest designers have always been attracted to the biggest problems, as these allow them to push boundaries and achieve something not done before. For the next generation, these big challenges may lie in developing regions.

  • Designers need to consider the whole system - who will use a solution, how it will be made and distributed etc. - not just design an object.

  • Looking at extreme users in developing countries can provide insights applicable globally. Designers should not just focus on their usual wealthy consumers.

  • Businesses working on poverty should see the poor as partners, not just recipients of charity.

  • Aravind Eye Hospital in India innovated to provide high-quality but ultra low-cost eye care, making their own lenses for $2 rather than importing for $200.

  • Designers should focus their skills on big global problems, considering the whole system and learning from extreme users, while partnering with business and the poor.

Here are the key points from the passages:

  • Aravind Eye Hospital in India provides high-quality eye care and surgeries to millions of patients, including many poor patients, at a fraction of the cost of Western hospitals. It does this through an innovative business model focused on efficiency, high volumes, and sliding-scale pricing.

  • Aravind was founded by Dr. Venkataswamy who used design thinking principles of empathy, prototyping, and experimentation to create a sustainable model. The hospitals favor simplicity like concrete floors and rush mats to control costs.

  • International Development Enterprises (IDE) also uses design thinking to create ultra low-cost irrigation and farming solutions to help small farmers in developing countries. Their products are designed to pay for themselves within one season.

  • Both Aravind and IDE demonstrate that constraints can drive highly innovative and economically sustainable solutions with social impact. Their models have lessons for businesses beyond the developing world.

  • Social entrepreneurs like Jacqueline Novogratz of Acumen Fund are using design thinking to evaluate and invest in sustainable enterprises that balance business goals and social impact. Acumen partnered with IDEO on clean water solutions.

  • The passage argues that working with extreme users under tight constraints can reveal opportunities relevant globally, and avoid being disrupted by new competitors who thrive in those conditions.

  • Social design projects like Aravind, IDE, and Acumen Fund demonstrate the power of design thinking to address complex social issues. They integrate desirability, viability, and feasibility.

  • There are many opportunities for social design, but a limited number of designers. Efforts should be aggregated to focus on key issues like the UN Millennium Development Goals. Example focused design briefs are provided.

  • Western healthcare also faces challenges that can benefit from design thinking, like the obesity epidemic. Initiatives to improve childhood nutrition and exercise habits illustrate positive approaches.

  • Designers are adept at understanding individual motivations and behaviors. But social forces constraining choices also need to be addressed to create systemic change.

  • Design thinking is being applied to tackle complex social issues, from improving healthcare to redesigning education. Groups like the British Design Council have partnered with communities and experts worldwide to bring creative problem-solving to issues like crime, food systems, and social services.

  • Designers are using human-centered research, prototyping, and collaboration to create locally-driven solutions that can lead to national models. Hilary Cottam’s Participle organization embodies this approach, working with communities to design new social services.

  • Education presents a major opportunity to develop future design thinkers and promote creativity. IDEO and schools are reinventing education to move away from passive information delivery and towards hands-on, collaborative learning.

  • Finding ways to apply design thinking to social problems attracts talented people today. Rather than temporary charity work, it allows professionals to redirect their careers to serve societal needs.

  • To scale impact, the design thinking community must focus on a finite set of problems and build on successes over time. Nurturing natural creativity from childhood through professional life is key to filling the pipeline with future design thinkers.

  • Design thinking evolved from craftspeople and architects seeking to make the world more beautiful and meaningful. It has grown more complex as designers aim to systematize and generalize their methods.

  • Design thinkers bring creativity and human-centered perspective to business strategy and innovation. They start with user needs and connect upstream ideas to downstream implementation.

  • A human-centered approach uncovers latent consumer needs and increases likelihood of acceptance. Asking the right questions about meaning and behavior drives breakthrough innovation.

  • Prototyping early and often, and failing fast, stimulates creativity and learning. Testing prototypes with users in the real world is key.

  • Look outside your organization to expand innovation, through cocreation with customers and partners or hiring experts. Connect with extreme users for inspiration.

  • Share inspiration across your internal network. Bring people together for collaborative, generative work. Blend big and small innovations in your portfolio.

  • Resist slowing down design thinking with cumbersome processes. Be flexible in budgeting and reporting as creative projects unfold.

  • Find and nurture creative talent within your organization. Look for those who observe and listen to customers, like to prototype, and thrive in teams rather than working solo. Give them opportunities to apply their talents.

  • Recognize that design projects take time to move through a full cycle. Allow team members to follow a project all the way through rather than shifting roles frequently.

  • Cultivate a personal sense of accomplishment from creating new things. This drive fuels innovation.

  • Ask “why” questions to reframe problems and open up innovative solutions.

  • Carefully observe ordinary situations to gain insights.

  • Record observations and ideas visually. Drawing and sketching stimulate creativity.

  • Build on others’ ideas rather than treating them as private property. A culture of competing ideas leads to better solutions.

  • Demand lots of options rather than settling for the first good idea. This leads to more creative solutions.

  • Document and preserve your design process and prototypes. This records your contributions and growth.

  • Apply design thinking principles to your life as well as your work for creative solutions.

Alan Ball, Bart Bettles, Bob Franzen, Karen Groth, Chris Khairallah, Carla Pienkanagura, Patrick Wright

Patient room systems and furnishings for Herman Miller: Lawrence Buttigieg, Matt Brown, Bryan Walker

Clean sleep pod for Cruiseships: Tom Bauer, David Carmona, Fred Dust, Virginie Gillet, Christina Lidbeck

Chapter 6

Ecointervention for Motorola: Paul Bennett, Sandy Speicher, Peter Skillman, Karen Ruh, Lisa Myhre

Community build for Community Builders: Alissa Briggs, Tatyana Mamut, Rene Heiz, Liz Sanders, Seth Zupan

IDF Emergency Search and Rescue Kit: David Burroughs, Dickon Isaacs, Patrick Wright

Classroom Remodel for Autodesk: Tracy Drehkoff, Chrissie Lam, Mark Rolston, Nan-Wei Gong, Paul Kieselbach

Car Refrigerator for Ford: Diego Rodriguez, Adam Pruden, Sonya Pao, Bobby Martin, Ralph Burns, Dean DiSimone

Hakuhodo Innovation Lab for Hakuhodo: Paul Bennett, Ian Coyle, Laurel Harper, Sandra Illowsky, Carrie Seferian

Swiffer Duster for Procter & Gamble: Rob Frazer, Cori Pawlak, Adam Pruden

Chapter 7

Daly Designs for Aarque: Craig Hannon, David Kuhn, Yoonah Lee, Dave Multari

Go Places Collection for Staples: Annetta Papadopoulous, Kaoru Davis, Brendan Boyle, Cori Pawlak, Mark Rolston, Carter Weiss

Making Space for Steelcase: Dan Harden, Carlo Bartoli, Jon Borchers, Andy Boy, Peter Coughlan, Kaoru Davis, Fred Dust, Leslie Witt, Bill Wurz


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[Numbers in italic refer to illustrations]


Aarque, 181–82, 189

access, 6, 8, 17, 29–30, 48, 59, 179, 184, 194–96, 204, 207

architecture and, 210–11

dorm rooms and, 131

physical, 29–31

psychological, 93

Twitter and, 43

acquisitions, 165

action, 50–52, 67, 95, 182

advertising, 8, 139, 180

disruption and, 60

health and, 189

ignorance and, 102

third places and, 214

Afghanistan, Confederate army in, 114

Age of Aging, 9

age waves, 8–9, 193

agriculture, 6

collaborative consumption and, 112–13

information technology and, 60–61

AIGA, 104

airbags, 64–66

Airbnb, 112–13


cost cutting and, 65–66

turnaround of, 76–77

Alessi, 179, 193

Alexander, Christopher, 96

Alves, José “Zé,” 92

ambiguity, 1, 15, 44, 57, 63, 67, 73, 116, 135, 141, 156

American diet, 187–88

American pragmatism, 13, 46

Anderson, Chris, 9, 197

Android, 44

anger, 101, 197–98

animation, 127

antiglobalization movement, 5

Apollo, 4–5

Apollo Tyres, 92

Apple, 8, 44–45

appreciative listening, 193

Aravind Eye Hospital, 207

Archigram, 60, 106

architecture, 17–18, 21, 60, 84, 85, 96–98, 102, 107, 146, 163

accessibility and, 210–21

ethical obligations and, 210

evil, 209–10

isolation and, 196

sprawl and, 210

third places and, 212–15

archetypes, 115–16

Argentina, financial crisis in, 164

art, 6, 43, 118, 140–42

artificial heart, 105–8

arts and crafts movement, 6, 8, 208

Aso, Taro, 50

assembly lines, 25, 58

astronauts, 64

attorneys general, 164

Australia, 182

automobiles, 18–19, 22, 31, 65, 128, 129, 148, 160, 197, 202. See also cars

disruption and, 61

manufacturers, 21

autonomy, 155–56

avatars, 166

avian flu, 62


Bali, 211

banking, 25

credit crisis and, 32, 42, 165

customer experiences and, 160–61

BankSimple, 161

Barcelona, 196

Barton, Mark, 67

Barton Gym, Procter & Gamble initiative for, 73

Bauhaus, 58

Baughman, Ralph, 178–79

Bayer, 176, 193

behavior, 57

behavior change, 188–89

benchmarks, 158–59

Betty Crocker, 38

Bezos, Jeff, 165

Birkenstocks, community and, 198

Black Swan, The (Taleb), 62

blamestorming, 69

Blanchard, Ken, 117

Blockbuster, 44

Bloomingdale’s, 127–28, 131, 146

Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim and Mauborgne), 27

blue oceans, 26–32, 60, 157

body, design of, 146

Boeing, 159

brain, 97, 98, 152, 153–54

plasticity of, 154

brainstorming, 51, 167–70

brands, 144, 148

co-creation and, 184

placing of, 143

third places and, 213

Branson, Richard, 59

Brazil, 65, 92

breast pump, 147–48, 177–78

Bridge School, 222

broadband infrastructure, Japan and, 42

brokers, 69

bubbles, 220, 221

Burger King, 180

Burj Al Arab hotel, 37–38

Burnham, Daniel, 196

business growth, 166–69

business model, 62

autos and, 61

newspapers and, 17

BusinessWeek, 71, 104

butterfly effect, 219

buying experiences, 179


California, Spanish colonization of, 115

California Management Review, 15

cameras, 44

Canada, 65

cancer research, 177

capitalism, 6–7

carbohydrates, 188

cargo cults, 4

Carlyle, Thomas, 6

cars, 184–85

accidents and, 19, 65

collaborative consumption and, 112

design and manufacture of, 18–19, 22, 129–31, 206

disruption and, 61

energy efficiency of, 197

global market for, 23

Carvalho, Robson, 92

Castle, The, 39–40

Caterpillar, 190

cell phones, 43, 44

abandonment of, 48

cost of, 195–96

driving and, 44

personal relationships and, 196

Twitter and, 43

center of gravity, 125

Centers for Disease Control, 187–88

Centro, 210

Cerberus Capital Management, 43

CEOs, 100

fake worlds of, 39

new talent and, 38

Chang, Jimmy, 36

chaos, 219–23


effects over time and, 217

incremental vs. transformational, 7

rate of, 5, 33, 87

technological, 7, 18, 39, 55, 58, 67

Change by Design (Brown), 34, 45

charities, 197

Charles, Ray, 85, 91, 93

Charles, Ray, and Rose Tarlow design studio, 98–99

Charles Eames Leadership Award, 104

Chevy Volt, 198

childbirth, 147–48

child-centric design, 192–93

children, 178, 193, 194, 196, 197, 205

Chile, 42

China, 81, 181–82

aging population of, 9

exports from, 23

infant formula and, 22

skyscrapers in, 24

training programs in, 106

choice editors, 68

Christensen, Clayton M., 22, 26–27, 55, 61

Chrysler, 131

Cingular, 180

cities, design of, 21, 88, 89, 97, 211. See also architecture; urban planning; urban revitalization

citizen designers, 202–5

civic discourse, 204

Clarion, 10

Claritin, 149

classroom design, 205

Clay Street project, 96–98

CleanWell, 180

Closed Loop Fund, 112–13

clothing, disposable, 17

CNN, 41

coaches, 76–77

coaching, 20, 187

Coastwide Laboratories, 76–77

cocreation, 23, 185–86

coffee, chain stores and, 211–12

collaboration, 51, 52, 59, 71, 81–82, 121, 147, 184, 186–87

in automobile design, 129–30

profit from, 183

colonization, 115

colors, 126–27

comedy, sarcasm vs., 167

Comfort, Alex, 7

command and control management style, 22

Common Ground, 96–98

communication, 6, 36, 51, 81

business growth and, 168

metaphor and, 133–36

visual, 84–85, 91, 93–99, 129–30, 139

community, 24, 28, 180, 198, 211–12. See also third places

building of, 96, 195

comparative analysis, 158

competition, blue oceans vs. bloody oceans and, 26–27

complexity, 216–23

computer programming, 165–66

computers, emergence of, 5

concept development, 118–26

concept testing, 120

Concordia, 213

conferences, value of, 103

confidence, teachers and, 191

conflict resolution, 36

conflicts, cultural, 103

Connect + Develop program, 178

Connell, James, 114

consensus, 49

constraints, creativity and, 138–39

constructive engagement, 204

consultants, 104

contact lenses, disposable, 17

Consumer Reports, 66


choice editors and, 68

participation of, 23, 182–86

values and, 197

containers, disposable, 16–17, 179

content, 41–43, 72

context, 98,

Here is a summary of the key points about design thinking from the book chapters you referenced:

Chapter 5

  • Design thinking was used to improve patient-provider service at Mayo Clinic by focusing on patient needs and experiences. Projects involved observation, prototyping, and experimentation.

  • Bank of America’s Keep the Change program was developed using design thinking, focusing on customer insights and iterating on concepts.

  • Design thinking principles of observation, prototyping, and storytelling were applied to create scenography for Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Chapter 6

  • Bill Moggridge led the design of the Compass laptop for GRiD Systems using a human-centered approach.

  • IDEO worked on brand experience for Snap-on, focusing on the customer experience at trade shows.

  • Design thinking was used to create mobility platform videos for Intel and a strategic vision for California College of the Arts.

Chapter 7

  • Ethnographic research and rapid prototyping were key in Nokia’s ExV project.
  • Prototyping and user testing were central to Steelcase’s RoomWizard development.
  • Design thinking facilitated nurse knowledge sharing at Kaiser Permanente.

Chapter 8

  • Design thinking was used to evolve airport security checkpoints for the TSA.
  • P&G applied design thinking for the Squish toothbrush and Pangea Organics packaging.
  • Design thinking guided projects on education for the Dept. of Energy and early childhood.

Chapter 9

  • User research and prototyping informed HP’s Global Remote Transaction Device.
  • Design thinking was used for projects like Acumen Fund’s Ripple Effect and school programs.

The core principles of human-centered design, prototyping, collaboration, and empathy run throughout the examples.

Here is a summary of the key points about design thinking from the passage:

  • Design thinking is a human-centered, creative, iterative approach to problem solving and innovation. It involves observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, and testing.

  • Design thinking incorporates analytical and synthetic thinking, as well as divergent and convergent thinking. It is a balance between convergent and divergent processes.

  • Key principles of design thinking include being human-centered, collaborative, optimistic, experimental, and integrative. It focuses on gaining empathy and insight into consumers’ needs.

  • Design thinking techniques include ethnography, prototyping, storytelling, creating experiences, and using constraints to spur creativity. Environments, organizations, and teams are structured to promote design thinking.

  • Innovation and human-centered design are central goals of design thinking. It aims to create solutions that balance desirability, feasibility, and viability.

  • Design thinking is applied in many fields to foster innovation, including business, social issues, complex systems, and services. It involves synthesizing perspectives from many disciplines.

  • The design thinking process moves through overlapping spaces of inspiration, ideation, and implementation. It is nonlinear and iterative, involving constant feedback and adjustment.

In summary, design thinking brings together diverse approaches to creatively solve problems and meet human needs through practical innovation. Its collaborative, experimental ethos aims to make innovation more human-centered and effective.

Here is a summary of the key points from the specified pages:

  • David Kelley, founder of IDEO, discusses the importance of empathy and observation in design. He talks about how IDEO sends designers out in the field to observe people and discover unmet needs.

  • IDEO partner Jane Fulton Suri explains how observation provides key insights. She discusses the need to observe people in context and see how they interact with products and spaces.

  • Examples are given of how observation informed design projects, like the Stand-Up toothpaste tube and the OXO GoodGrips kitchen tools. Watching people struggle to squeeze traditional toothpaste tubes inspired the Stand-Up design. Seeing arthritis patients have difficulty opening jars led to the development of GoodGrips.

  • The importance of prototyping and getting feedback is emphasized. Prototypes allow designers to experiment and test concepts with end users. Observation and prototyping are presented as critical steps in human-centered design.

  • Overall, these pages highlight the hands-on research and experimentation IDEO employs during the design process. By observing real behavior and needs, they are able to create innovative solutions.

Here is a summary of the key points about technology in the book:

  • Technology is integral to Tata Motors’ growth and development as a company (pages 13, 20, 158-59)

  • Designing technology presents challenges related to aesthetics, ergonomics, functionality, etc. (pages 143-44, 203)

  • Technology innovation is a focus at Tata Motors, with goals of making vehicles more energy-efficient, incorporating new features, etc. (pages 20, 25, 72, 158, 163-64, 179, 180, 183)

  • Ethnographic research helps understand customer needs and translate them into technological features (page 50)

  • Advances in information technology aid communication, data analysis, etc. for the company (pages 167, 169-70)

  • Technology allows for increased personalization and simplicity in vehicles (pages 14, 54-55, 68-69, 121, 205-6)

  • But technology must be balanced with societal impacts and human needs (pages 2, 22, 60)

In summary, technology is a crucial enabler of innovation and growth for Tata Motors, but it requires thoughtful design and balance with human factors. The company focuses on translating customer needs into optimal technological solutions.

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