Change by Design

When you hear the term “design thinking,” do you picture a group of people at a research institute or lab — creating the next great technology product?

Before reading Tim Brown’s book, Change By Design, I did!

Afterward, I now understand that design thinking is not just applicable to the think tanks or creative industries of the world. It is a book for innovative leaders seeking to integrate creativity and innovation principles in all levels of their organization. 

Brown explains that design thinking is where people or groups of people collaborate to understand people's needs, the feasibility of technology and the viability of the organization's business strategy and constraints — all while trying to solve a problem or create a new product or service.

He feels a crucial first step in integrating design thinking into any organization is to create the right culture. It should allow for shared processes, encourage collective ownership of ideas, enable a team to learn from one another and enable people to fail (early and learn from it). 

Many ideas and techniques are shared in the book to make the design-thinking process applicable to everyone. Brown does this through real-world and researched examples. 

The one big concept I took away from this book is that you have to put people first, integrating the human point of view when designing a new idea, product or service. Brown suggests there are three things you must do to put people first: 

  • Take time to observe the people in their natural habitat; don’t just send a survey. 
  • Walk a mile in the customers' or clients' shoes. You need to analyze how people interact with the idea, product or service.
  • Have empathy. You need to not only walk in their shoes but understand their experiences and make them better. You need to consider the customers' emotional needs for the idea, product or service. 

This is how the Googles and Apples of the world have created such a large customer base. 

Now you may think that design thinking may fall into the grips of groupthink (the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual thought). For example, you have an idea but are too intimidated or scared to share because you may be made fun of for it. But Brown details ways to avoid this. 

Ultimately, he hopes that for all those who are not in think tanks, this book will provide a wealth of insight into design thinking and all its potential for creating meaningful change.

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