Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Book Observed -- Solving Problems with Design Thinking

I like to keep record of books I read or dawdle with here. I read/skimmed/audibled another book on design thinking: Solving Problems with Design Thinking. There's an overlap in author with the previous book I read. This book gives 10 case studies of design thinking innovation.

Incredibly boring book to me. I swear, these two books on Design Thinking could be subtitled--"how to make innovation as boring as possible so that managers can handle it." I almost get angry when books that could be written more interestingly instead are ventures in self-torture. My time's too precious to throw away. If I teach this MBA class again, I won't be requiring this book.

Perhaps another metric for me on the value of a book is how many tweetable insights and quotes it has. There were some in the book. Here are a few:

  • If you take only one thing from this book... it is the awesome power of ethnography, the deep insights produced by getting to know the situation and journeys of your customers as well as the people inside your organization that facilitate providing products and services.
  • Don't kill your strategies with completeness. Leave room for the people who must make them real to make them their own.
  • Nobody experiences anything by being told about it.
  • Thinking smaller--placing small bets and learning fast--is an undervalued innovation strategy.
  • One of the greatest challenges of the quest for innovation is impatience, "which makes us rush to solve instead of taking time to understand."
  • "The design thinking approach forces you to stay in the question and not define exactly what the problem is." Barry MacDevitt
  • "It is more often the recasting and recombination of myriad elements rather than one big 'new to the world' idea."
  • "Innovation is a team sport."
  • "Research demonstrates that too much information actually degrades the quality of our decisions."
  • Leaving space for stakeholders to be part of the discovery of new ideas.
I would say chapter 12, "Where Do We Go from Here?" is the chapter to read in the book. After the ten case studies, it suggests five key benefits to design thinking:
  • the way it helps reframe the questions--you get a better sense of what the real questions are (empathy is a key element here, feeling for your customer and employee)
  • collaborating to leverage difference--it brings the people who otherwise might pull against each other into the same room and thus overcomes potential barriers
  • curates the evidence to distill the essence of your situation
  • leaves space for insight, rather than just the creative ones having all the answers (allows emptiness to invite engagement)
  • accelerates speed through collaboration that cuts through inertia and bureaucracy

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