Analytical Thinking and Design Thinking (part 2)

In part 1 of this post on analytical thinking and design thinking the focus was on different sorts of reasoning and how these play a role in these types of thinking. In his article in the Harvard Business Review Tim Brown, the CEO and president of IDEO, an innovation and design firm in Palo Alto, California, provides a very interesting example of design thinking (or design doing) in a the large health care provider Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser wanted to improve the overall quality of both patients’ and medical practitioners’ experiences. Analytical thinking would typically provide a further rationalization of existing standards and policies.

Kaiser and IDEO started, interestingly, with training all nurses, doctors, and administrators in design thinking techniques hoping to inspire them to new ideas to create great experience. Using design thinking a team of nurses, doctors, union reps, etc. solved a long-lived shift change problem in a week.

The process of design thinking is taught (or caught) at the D-school, Institute of Design at Stanford.

The process is roughly as follows:

  1. Empathise – truly and deeply understand through observation, interviews, etc. what the challenge, issue, problem is you are dealing with. Dig deep for stories, emotions, feelings. Ask “why” 5 times….  Capture all findings;
  2. Define – translate all learning into ‘needs’ and insights. All these should be described in verbs – what does ‘it’ need to accomplish. When you are done with this step is should read like a problem worth tackling – something the design is going to address;
  3. Ideate – now you will start creating solutions to the challenge – lots and lots of solutions. This is all about generation, no evaluation (in de Bono’s terminology: green hat, no black hat)
  4. Share – share your ideas and prototypes to capture feedback (quick and dirty ideas are better than elaborated ideas) – no defending of ideas, it is about learning and understanding.
  5. Reflect en generate new solutions – create new solutions (variations or completely new designs) based on feedback. Be very concrete – make sure your solution truly fits in the context at hand.
  6. Share, test and get feedback
  7. Make the case – each iteration already involves communication, implementation, spreading the word, etc

What do you think would happen if everybody in your company or organisation was able and empowered to tackle problems in this way?

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