Design Thinking is — in my experience — the best way to quickly engage large groups of people in order to understand the kinds of problems that need to be solved. The framework, while not perfect, certainly allows its user to think more holistically about a problem by making sure as many voices are brought into the process as possible.
This runs counter to how we oftentimes think about problems and solutions. Americans in particular believe in the myth of the solo inventor, laboring in a garage, sussing out a problem that nobody had ever encountered before and developing a solution unique to the planet. But, of course, this is just a mythology. Innovation is incrementally-based, and design thinking is a toolset that allows that people to speed up the process of developing new ideas.
I picked up The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from Ideo, America’s Leading Design Firm after finishing Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, which is a more holistic look at how design thinking works.
And Tom Kelley’s book was the perfect next read. Kelley breaks down some of the core components of design thinking, uses practical examples to explain how these processes can be used to identify problems and build solutions, and wraps that around the context of business. While design thinking isn’t confined to business — I used it when I was an associate professor, and I used it while running a writing collective — its application in corporate realms help illuminate how the process can work.
If you’ve ever wondered how to engage groups (large or small) in order to find out how they feel, understand a problem, or develop solutions that have buy-in from a large constituency, this (and Change by Design) are worth reading.