HBR Article: Design Thinking by Tim Brown

Jared Spool

July 5th, 2008

In the corporate boardroom, Innovation has moved beyond the fad stage and has now become an enterprise mandate. Problem is, ordering your institution to innovate is akin to a gym teacher ordering the class to meditate. (“OK CLASS, TODAY WE’RE GOING TO MEDITATE. BEGIN. ONE. TWO. MEDITATE. THREE. FOUR. MEDITATE. SPOOL! YOU’RE NOT MEDITATING!” Is my high school phys ed experience showing?)

In the June 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review, there is a super article by IDEO’s Tim Brown on what it takes to bring innovation down to the execution. Tim’s solution: Design Thinking.

Tim tells us that Design Thinking is:

a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.

Anyone who is immersed in UX design will find familiar comfort in Tim’s descriptions of how this works. There’s nothing new is how he goes about it. It’s just that he’s done a great job of explaining what we do in business terms that executives can understand.

For example, the Tim explains why prototypes are important to an organization’s understanding of the problems they are trying to solve through design:

Prototypes should command only as much time, effort, and investment as are needed to generate useful feedback and evolve an idea. The more “finished” a prototype seems, the less likely its creators will be to pay attention to and profit from feedback. The goal of prototyping isn’t to finish. It is to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the idea and to identify new directions that further prototypes might take.

If you don’t have a Harvard Business Review premium subscription, it will cost you $6.50 to get the PDF of this article. However, if you are looking for a good way to help your senior management team understand the value of design, this article will be well worth it.

Access the Harvard Business Review Article, Design Thinking by Tim Brown.

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