IDEO on TED, Tim Brown on thinking big in design

For anyone not already in IDEO's PR reach, Tim Brown's presentation at TED in July has been posted.  Tim does a great job talking about how design become a narrow profession—"a priesthood of folks in black turtlenecks and designer glasses working on small things." And in talking about how design can become something more.  

In many ways, Tim's remarks on design challenge us in the same way that Drucker challenged managers: "It's not enough to do the thing right; you need to do the right thing."

Design thinking, in this way, is becoming a powerful frame for thinking about innovation, one that focuses on the process (innovating) and not the outcome (innovation).  It's one thing to say people should "innovate" but, because innovation-as-process is so closely associated with innovation-as-outcome (eg., a revolutionary market success), such behaviors are hard to pursue. 

I once asked a class full of senior executives whether they wanted innovation. They all said yes. When I then asked whether they wanted their direct reports to spend time developing and experimenting with new ways of doing their work, they all said no.  They wanted innovation-as-outcome but not not the process.

Design thinking describes what you should do when you're innovating, but in a way that sounds more manageable and more useful.

2 thoughts on “IDEO on TED, Tim Brown on thinking big in design

  1. Innovation is an outcome, but without a process we won’t get it. And that process includes culture, skill, systems, methods, and so on. in terms of culture, I often say that we have to create a culture that doesn’t punish failure in experimentation. However, the more I coach executives on how to do this, what I realize is that it is very difficult to create a culture of a negative, meaning “don’t do this” and “don’t do that.” It is much easier to create a culture that encourages a certain behavior. Therefore, instead of trying to build a culture that doesn’t punish failure in experimentation, I have found it is more practical to create a culture that rewards learning.
    Jamie Flinchbaugh

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