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Posts tagged ‘Design Thinking’

when it doesn’t “roll”

This is a cautionary tale. Once upon a time, there was an organization who chose to upgrade their business enterprise software. My role was to support the process. We walked through the due diligence steps: detailing requirements, seeking demonstrations, running software trials, and obtaining quotes. Having selected a vendor, I called to get the process rolling.

It didn’t roll. Every vendor telephone call and email ended with, “Next you will need to contact <insert department name here>. Here’s their email and telephone extension.” Use your imagination to envision rounds of email and phone tag. Time went by.

Ultimately the enterprise software was upgraded; data was migrated; people were trained; the bill was paid. But, I lost count of the number of times I had to push or pull the vendor forward. Now, almost a month later, there has been no follow-up.

This experience was full of uncertainty and frustration. It did not have to be this way. The vendor could have simplified the process by designating one point of contact at their company. One person to build a relationship, guide the process, manage the project timetable, and answer questions.

By not engaging us, the vendor lost opportunities. There is no motivation to be excited about the new software – we spent too much energy running the process. There is no story of an exceptional experience to share with others. There is no story of the vendor’s quality support or the company’s visible values.

I was not expecting to buy an entertaining or even transformational experience. But, in a time when much of what I buy is a commodity (food, software, services, etc.), the underlying experience and relationship by the vendor changes the value obtained.

How do you define an exceptional customer experience? How are your company’s values displayed throughout each client or customer contact?

Insanely Simple
Resource: Steal this Idea

Resource: Oblique Strategies

In one of those journeys that can only happen on the web, where link-leads-to-link, I discovered Oblique Strategies. The idea of Oblique Strategies is that disruption increases creativity. Disrupting the patterns we live and work by, allows our brains to take notice and generate something different. To break the pattern or shift your brainstorming session, try one of the prompts: “Emphasize differences” – “Use an old idea” – “What mistakes did you make the last time?” – “A line has two sides”- “What are you really thinking about just now?”

The original Oblique Strategies appeared on a card deck. These have since been translated to the web, iPod, etc. Try a prompt today!

Resource: Organization Development Processes

Can imagination be taught?

I’ve been writing about the Stanford and their design thinking process. In a new article in the Stanford alumni magazine, President John Hennessy is quoted,

It’s much harder to teach creativity. [It involves] multiple routes, multiple approaches and, obviously, it’s virtually impossible to test whether or not you’ve succeeded. The measure of success is likely to come long after, not unlike many of the other things we try to teach: To prepare students to be educated citizens, to prepare them for dealing with people from diverse and different walks of life. Those are things that play out over a long time, whether or not we’ve done a good job.

But the core curriculum supports just that: learning to be imaginative and creative. Students learn techniques for “interviewing, observing, suggesting, tinkering, reviewing and then perhaps completely restarting two, three or four times.”

What are you taking time to observe? Who are you interviewing to understand their perspective on working or doing business with your organization? What will you try, test, and re-design until you get it right – a new product, an improved process, a customer experience? Who you do you meet with regularly who is outside of your industry or discipline that can stretch your ideas and imagination?

Sparks Fly: Can imagination be taught? – Bootcamp Bootleg – Research by Design


Resource: More design thinking from the

The Stanford has released a new toolkit for organizations involved in design thinking. As Tim Brown says in Change by Design, “You have to start with observation because it’s the only way to illuminate the subtle nuances about how people actually get things done (or don’t get things done), and it’s these deep insights that lead to powerful new ideas.”

Here are some of the focus areas addressed in the new toolkit:

  1. problem finding and framing
  2. multi-disciplinary team building
  3. ideation/brainstorming
  4. prototyping/testing
  5. storytelling

Download the new toolkit; explore and research!

Previous Bootcamp Bootleg

Resource: Design Thinking Process

The Stanford updated the Bootcamp Bootleg, a working document that outlines some of the methods from their “Design Thinking Bootcamp” course. “The guide outlines each mode of a human-centered design process and describes a number of methods which may support your design thinking throughout the process.” Bootcamp Bootleg


All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
  –Pablo Picasso

How do you experience individual moments throughout the day? Do you see what is around you? Do you incorporate what you see into your ideas and opinions? Do you let it move you? Is it fun!? Here are some things I’ve seen in the last three days:



Getting unstuck

Resource: Steal this idea

Prairie Sunset with Hedge Row

I’ve written before about design thinking as an evidence-based process. Now comes a new post by Tim Brown of IDEO with links to downloadable books and resources from OpenIDEO. These resources demonstrate the IDEO method of design thinking. The method integrates ideas generated through a wide variety of networks, created through disciplined collaboration, allowing concepts to emerge and leading to actionable outcomes.

If you’re looking for ways of engaging emergence, I recommend discovering these free resources.

To challenge your thinking about emergence, read Tim Brown’s ideas and questions about “emergent characteristics” of successful regions that generate “relevant innovations”.

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