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Early Thoughts on Design Thinking December 6, 2009

Posted by Jason Hirschhorn in Design Thinking.

Design thinking is critical to innovation.  Creating new or improving existing products, services and experiences requires design thinking.  The process of engaging with end users to understand their needs and preferences and then creating prototypes that are refined over and over through an iterative process makes sense.  I am struck by how the approach to design thinking seems so practical, creative and intuitive but is being used by so few organizations.  This is beginning to change and design thinking is not just being used by design consultancies or product design firms and instead being recognized as critical to any firm or organization that wants to innovate.

While I understand design thinking more fully, I am left wondering if I can really understand it without having actually experienced it or engaged in it.  How exactly does the prototyping process work?  What type of questions are most useful to ask end users?  Pulling together a design team that is made up of individuals from different backgrounds, from business to anthropology to art to design seems valuable.  Having different professional and life experiences and different learning and working styles on the same team seems valuable.  I am struck by how Haas, while we are all MBAs, is a rich atmosphere for those types of teams.  I am struck by how different the experiences of most of my classmates are.  Haas is truly a diverse place, but I also wonder whether we can fully engage in design thinking without students from engineering, art, anthropology, science, etc. 

Finally, applying design thinking to my own passion:  Urban public education.  1 in 10 students living in a low-income community graduates from college.  This is unacceptable and there are a variety of reasons for this dismal statistic that I won’t go into here.  I can tell you that from teaching in an inner city school and consulting to education organizations and urban districts, urban schools and districts are in drastic need of an overhaul and design thinking seems like it could work to help with the innovation that is needed in order to change public education.  So how do we bring design thinking to the masses?



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