Are You A Design Thinker?

Are you taking advantage of design to generate strategic business differentiation?

I got turned onto the topic of design thinking from Cone Johnson – an iRise user who helped organize an event around design thinking in Dallas today.

So what is design thinking?

From the Design Thinking event site, they talk about design thinking as follows:

“Classic business models are threatened—the economics of competition have changed. Quality, efficiency and price are quickly matched. Being different requires flexibility—it’s squishy. Squishy seems to imply risk.

Such is the conundrum of the balance between science and art—a balance readily facilitated by Design Thinking, fundamentals for strategic business differentiation.”

At the Corante blog, Paula Thornton describes design thinking as “leveraging implicit elements of design practices, as a means to approach problem solving” and calls it a “critical factor for innovation”.   Paula also notes that “Good Design Thinking is the ability to see things not readily apparent to others (that’s where market differentiation can occur).”

The Noise Between Stations blog provides 6 building blocks of design thinking:

  • Collaborative, especially with others having different and complimentary experience, to generate better work and form agreement
  • Abductive, inventing new options to find new and better solutions to new problems
  • Experimental, building prototypes and posing hypotheses, testing them, and iterating this activity to find what works and what doesn’t work to manage risk
  • Personal, considering the unique context of each problem and the people involved
  • Integrative, perceiving an entire system and its linkages
  • Interpretive, devising how to frame the problem and judge the possible solutions

The net-net is that design is good – and that design can and should be leveraged to even greater heights by coupling it with business strategy to generate new innovations.  I’d love to hear comments about how others are using design to solve problems.

(For some additional background information, here are some links on design thinking provided by Cone.  This entry was originally posted in the Catalyze Current Wisdom blog.)

10/25 update – Here’s some more information I ran across this morning on Design Thinking from Bruce Nussbaum’s blog (NussbaumOnDesign) where he compares Design to Design Thinking.


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