You are here

Getting Schooled In Design

Innovation requires imagination. Henry Ford once said, "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse." Making innovative leaps requires design thinking and a culture that looks beyond what exists today.

In the past two years, Nussbaum has written and blogged almost daily about the ways in which D-school (Design school), not B-school (Business school), is reshaping the way companies compete and businesses operate. Consider this observation:

If you're a manager at a company that's going to compete globally by playing the innovation game, you're going to have to learn how to innovate. Don't kid yourself about learning all you need to know about innovation in B-school. You didn't. When people talked about innovation in the '90s, they really meant technology. When people talk about innovation in this decade, they really mean design."

"Getting Schooled in Design", Business Week, Jan 3, 2005
http://businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jan2005/nf2005013_8303.htm

Now, two and a half years later, Design Thinking is becoming mainstream, at least as an idea, among many of the corporate clients that I visit on behalf of Red Hat. And though many of these clients have yet to put Design Thinking into production, I see this now as "inevitable". I also think it is time to expose this formal process to the greater Open Source community. To many of you, Design Thinking will seem both natural and obvious, but I contend that when practiced formally, it can lead to better results faster across a larger group of constituents than relying on mere genius alone (as so many of us have done for so long). On Tuesday, July 24th at 5:30pm, I intend to share everything I know about how to practice Design Thinking, in the hopes that you will join the OSI Board on Wednesday, July 25th, at 5:30pm to help us design a better, stronger, more relevant OSI.


I am a designer

If you want to sharpen your pencils before this session, I recommend reading two booklets on the topic, both from the AIGA's Design and Business sub-site. They are: Why Design? and What Every Business Needs. If you read through these, you will find that the 12-step AIGA process is different than the 8-step process that I detailed in my earlier blog posting. Some have as many as 23 steps in their process. The number of steps is not important. What is important is that Design Thinking is a generative not a reductive process, and that everybody is a designer (in the flat hierarchy of the design process).

But isn't this just brain-storming? No, because Design Thinking is more than just brain-storming: it is a process that makes brain-storming more productive and more actoinable. Certainly brain-storming (which the folks at Red Hat call "Ideation") is the most fun and often the most memorable part of many Design Thinking sessions, but it is not the only thing. The ideation rules I play by are:

"The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas." -- Linus Pauling

  • State the obvious
  • No hierarchy
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Build on the ideas of others
  • No criticisms, no judgements
  • Ban the devil's advocate
  • Focused chaos is good
  • Enlightened trial-and-error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius
  • No lone genius: ideas come from everywhere; creative process is collaborative
  • Try stuff and ask for forgiveness, rather than asking permission
  • Rapid prototyping to test things out to get a good idea if they work
  • Fail often in order to succeed sooner
  • No hidden agendas
  • Schedule/time tracking is important
  • Generate as many ideas as possible: Quantity vs. quality
  • Stay focused

Remember: good ideation creates the innovation potential that the rest of the Design Thinking process makes actionable.


Here are some other external links you may wish to reference. (The excerpted text is from the quoted articles, and does not represent my own personal voice.)

Red Hat Magazine

The Design Thinking Issue

Published May 2006 Issue #19

Design thinking is a fresh way of reframing everyday projects and problems. Find out what all the fuss is about as we show you how this creative approach fits perfectly with the principles of open source, collaboration, and sharing.

read more...

Red Hat Magazine

Intro to design thinking

Interview with David Burney

You may have noticed the word "design" being talked about recently. Perhaps you've read about design thinking in a recent business publication, or noticed the phrase being used in discussions on innovation where you work. Maybe you've heard about Stanford's newly-founded d.school.

read more...

Business Week Magazine

The Empathy Economy

"Design thinking" can create rewarding experiences for consumers -- the key to earnings growth and an edge that outsourcing can't beat.

You can't Six Sigma your way to high-impact innovation, but you can design your company to generate products and services that provide great consumer experiences, top-line revenue growth, and fat profit margins. That's the sometimes-painful message CEOs in America are learning today.

read more...

Red Hat Magazine

Thinking Design: A pencil, a ruler, and a cup of coffee (Part 1)

by David Burney

First, a confession. I'm a designer. Nature, nurture, education, and training. Design is my profession, and it has been for nearly 30 years. Read more.

read more...

Red Hat Magazine

Thinking Design: A pencil, a ruler, and a cup of coffee (Part 2)

by David Burney

In a previous article I explained why the title above has meaning for me. I'd like to dig a bit deeper, so you may want to read that article first if you missed it. If you take the client's perspective in the above quote to its logical ending, I think you can make the argument that everyone is a designer. Most of us don't think that way. But, after 30+ years in the industry, I do.

read more...

Fast Company Magazine

The Power of Design

In October 2003, several hundred graphic designers gathered in Vancouver for the American Institute of Graphic Arts' biennial conference. For three days, they argued, debated, and fulminated over what seemed a daunting question: How could they make the world -- especially the business world -- understand the power of design? Today, that challenge seems quaint, even antiquated. If anything, companies now face the question's inverse: How can you not see the power of design?

read more...

Red Hat Magazine

Better Linux release notes through design thinking

by Karsten Wade

One of the lessons we've learned in the Fedora&tm; Documentation Project is that open source methodologies are not just for software coders and hardy beta testers. It is only one small step to apply the same collaboration methods to open source documentation, but it is a step that shows a new and powerful path.

read more...

Business Week Magazine

Design Gets Its Due in Davos

This year's World Economic Forum features a roster of programs seeking to bring business up to speed on new thinking about innovation.

The World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, Switzerland, is a high-altitude, high-profile gathering of the globe's business and political elites. Microsoft's (MSFT) Bill Gates is a regular, as are Google's (GOOG) Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, who throw an amazing party at the Kirchner Museum every year. Bill Clinton usually hosts a late-night gab-fest, and last year it seemed like half of U.S. Congress and much of the Bush Cabinet were participating in sessions on trade and foreign policy.

read more...

Red Hat Magazine

Design books that inspire us

Massive Change; Re-Imagine!; Problem Solved: A Primer for Design and Communication; The Art of Looking Sideways; Brand Gap; Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO; America's Leading Design Firm; Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative; Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist; It's Not How Good You Are, But How Good You Want To Be; Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

read more...

Red Hat Magazine

The Business of Design

Quick, what's your IQ? No, not your intelligence quotient -- your imagination quotient. In this turbulent, get-real economy, the advantage goes to those who can outimagine and outcreate their competitors. So says Roger Martin, who has devoted his professional life to the study of competition -- first as a director at Monitor Co., the Boston-based consultancy, and now as dean of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

read more...

As a final thought on Design Thinking, consider the implementation of the d.school at Stanford University.


Stanford d.school manifesto

Stanford has dedicated this $35M facility at the center of their campus to house the new design school, repurposing one of the main buildings of the engineering school. Its central location is more than just a statement of the importance of design: it is an example of form serving function, because design is central and integral to all the other disciplines of the school. Where the other schools teach divergent ways to answer the questions or "How?" or "Why?", the design school brings them all together with an irreverant "Why Not?! Here's How...". Would that other institutions could (re-)organize themselves so logically!