Those of us following the dissemination of the design thinking meme were wondering if and when the Harvard Business Review would jump on board, and the waiting is over. In the June 2008 issue there’s an overview article courtesy of IDEO’s Tim Brown, a logical choice. He makes some key points while sidestepping unnecessary hype. Examples:
- His cases include Coasting bicycles, Kaiser Permanente nursing shift changes, and the Aravind Eye Care System. But he wraps the piece with a comparison to Thomas Edison:
- Design applied downstream is tactical, design applied upstream is strategic.
- The importance of a human-centered approach
- Brainstorming and prototyping stand as examples for the array of possible techniques
- Constraints as a springboard for creativity
- Aesthetics are still important because they appeal to our emotions
- As more of our needs our met, we crave better experiences
The lightbulb is most often thought of as his signature invention, but Edison understood that the bulb was little more than a parlor trick without a system of electric power generation and transmission to make it truly useful. So he created that, too. Thus Edison’s genius lay in his ability to conceive of a fully developed marketplace, not simply a discrete device… Edison wasn’t a narrowly specialized scientist but a broad generalist with a shrewd business sense… Innovation is hard work; Edison made it a profession that blended art, craft, science, business savvy, and an astute understanding of customers and markets.
And so on. If you haven’t been introduced to design thinking, it’s a good place to start. If you have, it’s a good article to educate your clients.