Design Thinking for Social Innovation



via “Design Thinking MN“…

Legendary San Francisco design agency “IDEO” is hosting a seven-week online course for local teams of designers and thinkers across the world.

Booz & Co. asserts that human-centered design is ultimately the driver of innovation and the root cause of success in Silicon Valley.

– “customer first” innovation culture
– deep end-user understanding across the organization
– alignment of innovation strategy with customer needs

IDEO’s application of “design thinking” to “social innovation” is… rather innovative.


Next-Generation Lean Thinking: Frame – Build – Measure – Learn



The following excerpt from the “lean thinking” genre illustrates the emerging “frame” dimension of the project cycle. Zach Nies proposes augmenting the typical build / measure / learn sequence with a “frame” phase.

Frame, Build, Measure, Learn: Knowledge and Innovation in an Uncertain World

Zach explains the proposed enhancement of the feedback loop in terms of an empathy map.

The frame / build / measure / learn cycle is analogous to Deming cycle (PDCA — plan / do / check / act) and Boyd loop / OODA loop (observe / orient / decide / act).

3M Scientist Receives “Innovator of the Year” Award


Our own Andy Ouderkirk of Innovation Salon

Notably, Andy is recognized for for his achievements in optical science “and” his leadership in innovation processes

His commentary on the innovation process gives a whole new meaning to “employee engagement” and “talent management”

– 2013 R&D Magazine Innovator of the Year Award

– recognizes leadership, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and success in the pursuit of science and technology

– a rare mix of capabilities: advance research and technology development in a fundamental way “and” see how discoveries can be applied to improve daily life

– electronic materials division; advanced optical films used in consumer electronics

– light management properties that conserve energy; improve battery life in smart phones, computer displays, e-books, tablets, and other devices

– a physical chemist by training, Andrew Ouderkirk holds 170 patents

– a passion for the innovation process; evaluating innovative practices that lead to new discoveries:

— incremental discoveries are predictable within a lead market; breakthrough innovations impact adjacent markets

— specialists bring depth of knowledge in a discipline; specialist-generalists explore both depth in their research and knowledge across disciplines

– 3M’s culture of openness, networking, and freedom to cross disciplines / boundaries and take risks

– nurturing employee creativity and growth

– collaboration with colleagues and customers are pathways to impact and transform daily life with new ideas that come to life

Andy will present at Innovation Salon on 12/17/2013.


Breakthrough Innovation and Growth – The Value of Open Innovation and External Collaboration


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PWC breakthrough innovation and growth survey

(see nodes 8 and 9 on “road to growth” — reinforcing the factor of external collaboration)

The most innovative companies collaborate with external partners over three times more often than the least innovative companies.

The results of a survey of 1,757 executives — innovation is a key driver of organic growth, regardless of sector or geography.

Innovation leaders are breaking away from their cohorts… what are these innovation leaders doing differently?

The Integration of Ration and Emotion


The following excerpt from the “design thinking” genre illustrates the emerging integration of ration and emotion as a route to innovation… and design thinking as an embodiment of that integration.

Design thinking taps into capacities that we all have, but that are overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. While it focuses on creating products and services that are human-centered, the process itself is also deeply human. Design thinking relies on our ability to to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as being functional, and to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. Nobody wants to run an organization on feeling, intuition, and inspiration — but an over-reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky. Design thinking, the integrated approach at the core of the design process, provides a third way.

(Tim Brown – CEO, IDEO)

Design Thinking for Social Innovation” – Stanford Social Innovation Review – vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 2010)

The T-Shaped Personality Type


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The following excerpt from the “design thinking” genre illustrates the emerging recognition of the “T-shaped” personality type… interdisciplinary teams / divergent thinking as a route to innovation. Tim Brown (CEO of renowned design agency “IDEO”) explains the need for both a vertical axis (depth of skill) and a horizontal axis (empathy for other disciplines).

To operate within an interdisciplinary environment, an individual needs to have strengths in two dimensions — the “T-shaped” person. On the vertical axis, every member of the team needs to possess a depth of skill that allows him or her to make tangible contributions to the outcome. The top of the “T” is where the design thinker is made. It’s about empathy for people and disciplines beyond one’s own. It tends to be expressed as openness, curiosity, optimism, a tendency toward learning through doing, and experimentation.

(Tim Brown – CEO, IDEO)

Design Thinking for Social Innovation” – Stanford Social Innovation Review – vol. 8, no. 1 (Winter 2010)