what we're reading now
follow us on facebook
follow us on twitter
subscribe to our blog
find it

What We're Reading Now

What is Design Thinking?

15 November 2016

Allison facilitated the Ready, Set, Design activity for 150 participants and was grateful for a fun, fast, and easy way to explain design thinking concepts.

Tags: allison read, creativity, design thinking, empathy

Practically speaking, design thinking is just another way of solving problems. You may have heard of the Institute of Design at Stanford, IDEO, or the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. These are all organizations committed to teaching more people to solve problems like designers using empathy, invention, and iteration.

At Allison Partners, we’re partial to the Design @ Darden approach. You can learn more about that process here and in this blog post Rachel wrote about Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie.

Recently, we’ve been working with a large organization to help it embed design thinking skills and processes into its product innovation department. Many members of the staff plus important external stakeholders have invested time in learning how to think like designers. Today, I had the task of explaining to 150 of the organization’s volunteers how design thinking is changing the way their organization does what it does.

I turned to the Cooper-Hewitt web site for an activity called Ready, Set, Design. “Participants are asked to solve an open-ended problem with time and material constraints. Working in small groups, solutions are developed quickly and yield surprising solutions that may not have been immediately obvious.” In less than one hour and with only three simple items like a pipe cleaner, balloon, and tongue depressor, I watched 26 groups come up with prototypes for the following challenges.

  • I need to organize my cords and other tech supports
  • I need to reduce the stress of a move
  • I need to minimize food waste
  • I need to find my lost keys
  • I need to keep my shoes dry in the rain
  • I need to keep my coffee warm all day

If you’re curious about how an activity like this can help anyone understand design thinking, check out Cooper-Hewitt’s short video explaining Ready, Set, Design as well as these instructions for conducting the exercise. I think you’ll find that you can easily facilitate this activity yourself and introduce others to design thinking concepts. Have fun!


Our Comment Policy:

Our blog posts are only half of the conversation. What our readers have to say is equally important to us, and we're grateful for all the comments that continue the dialog.

To ensure that the discussion here is as useful as possible to all of our readers, please be respectful of our contributors and refrain from harassing, threatening and/or vulgar language. We reserve the right to screen and remove any comments from the site. If you have a question about a comment or want to discuss our policy, please contact us. We'll talk it over.

There are no comments for this entry yet.


Leave a comment



Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter the characters you see below:

« Return to What We're Reading Now