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Daniel Perl on Design Thinking September 27, 2009

Posted by Daniel Perl in Design Thinking.

I struggled a bit with the “Innovation as a Learning Process” article with regard to the four learning styles and the various models presented. Reading through the frameworks and descriptions of the models/learning styles, I felt myself failing to grasp the most salient points – I wanted more examples and more stories/anecdotes that would more persuasively illustrate the concepts that were being described.

This is not altogether surprising considering that I recently learned that I am categorized as an “Accommodating” learner, who learns through experience and is more interested in practical examples than abstract concepts. When encountering something like a new framework, I physically want to walk my way through it and wrestle with it out loud — asking questions, probing the author, and restating it in my own words and with my own analogies to make sure that I understand it.

That being said, I don’t think that I’m a full-on Accommodater – I think that my learning style/preference changes based on the context of the assignment/task and the particular composition of the group that I’m working with. I think it’s critical that groups embrace dissent and have contrarian thinkers among them. As a result, I feel that I am able to slide around the “Innovation Framework” to fill a particular role that may be underrepresented. For instance, when I felt that my Haas study group was becoming too concrete and too goal-oriented, I found myself becoming more idea-driven and creative/open-ended in my thinking. Sometimes I feel like it’s almost as if I value going against the grain more than I appreciate any one particular style.

I’d like to think that this chameleon-style that I sometimes employ is ultimately helpful to the groups that I’m a part of – filling gaps and pushing for diversity of thought. However, I imagine it can detrimental to a group process if I am perceived by my teammates as being unpredictable.



1. Sara Beckman - November 28, 2009

How can we collectively go about building a set of examples that would help bring alive the elements of the design thinking cycle for you (and others who digest information as you do)? What types of examples would help?
We all need to be careful (including me) not to overemphasize your learning style as a “type.” It is better looked at as a “strength” rather than at type, as we all go through the cycle throughout every day as we take in and digest new information. It just happens that we are often stronger in one dimension than in another. But, as Kolb’s work suggests, we can learn and change as well – as you seem to with the particular situations you face.

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