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1. James Bender - September 20, 2009

“Framing is, perhaps, the most difficult of the tasks in the innovation process. It requires taking in a lot of data, and making sense of that data.” This idea stuck with me. When I think of innovation, I believe many people just skip this step. They consider what exists, and try to tweak existing systems, structures, or products to better serve the end. However, in my mind, that’s not really innovation. My goal in this class is to be able to dissect challenges to the point where the heart of the matter is revealed: “the true challenge is?” Perhaps a new car bridge is not the answer. Perhaps placing my washer and dryer near the dirty clothes bin is the correct answer. Perhaps communicating via RF devices will not be as Orwellian as originally conceived. Framing is the step that allows a designer to truly understand the root of a challenge.

Finding the right framework, dissecting, and then taking time to think about the root of the problem are the most important takeaways here. Lastly, understanding the process potentially makes the path to the end goal less painful, but does not guarantee success.

James Bender

Sara Beckman - September 21, 2009

Framing is indeed a step that many organizations seem to skip – dealing with the abstract question of “why” someone does something or wants something. And yet, that insight into “why” often leads to much more long-lasting and meaningful solutions.

2. Jerome Wouters - September 30, 2009

This is indeed a very valuable comment. As a matter of fact, at IESE Business School we had a class called “Analysis of Business Problems” which pretty much walked us through a framework to approach unstructured problems.

One takeway from this class was that you should spend a significant amount of your time identifying what the problem is. And this obviously calls for looking beyond the obvious symptoms, to understand what the root cause is.

Many of the cases we dicsussed revealed unexpected root causes, which called for actions that were very different from the solutions that would have come spontaneously to your mind if you only looked at the firts issue at hand.

For those of you who have worked or want to work in consulting, this is probably the single most important thing to remember if you want to have a real impact on your client’s organization. And address their core issue…

3. Elise Singer - May 5, 2010

Leah Hunter is is Strategic Director at Cheskin and focuses on concept creation, product development and consumer research. She took some time in February to speak to our Design Applications in Business speaker’s series.

Ethnography is fascinating. Essentially, the job of an ethnographer in business is to study people to understand what they want. Leah explained her method. She observes people in their environment, asks open questions, keeps asking why until she gets to the kernel of truth, records all information as objectively as possible with words, pictures and sketches, and does her best to remain non-judgmental. She then takes all her information to pull out the key information from the morass to summarize and deliver. Or, to summarize and diagnose.

And this is where I was dumbstruck. I am a family physician/geriatrician and as such have been a professional “diagnoser’ since 1999. You could literally change the context of this discussion to a doctor and patient and apply everything above almost to the word. Since coming to business school this class was the very first time I saw true parallels to the work I do as a physician in the exam room.

I have consistently been surprised by the lack of similarity between the business world and the physician’s job. The physician’s goal is to maximize health and wellness. We focus on processes to ensure that we’re providing the best care. By and large, it’s a nationwide, fragmented job-shop. On the other hand, all of business is about making money. Processes are often in place that are moderately, or extremely efficient. If not, a competitor that is better often comes in and takes over. We just don’t see that kind of disruption or free market-place in action in healthcare.

So, here I was, unsuspecting in my second semester of second year, when — *bam* — there it was! The life I’d been leading since entering medical school in 1995, reflected back to me in this laid back young woman sitting cross legged on a desk at the front of a class.


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