The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part two

This is part two of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking in the past couple of weeks. Part one is here.

Within these two posts, I want to provide my thoughts, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, one that in my opinion, is urgently needed.

These two posts are not intended as a mapping of the present DT landscape, they are reflective posts coming from what I researched.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks. It has not been easy and often I found a level of confusion that kept forcing me to dig some more and I’m still not sure I have the answers, perhaps just lots of open questions. I think design thinking seems presently fairly messy and I feel is in need of a complete reset.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, more of the present practices and then where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and is lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise” and “hype to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present. Continue reading

The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part One

Let me summarize where we are today in design thinking. In the past couple of weeks, I have been spending a fair amount of time on investigating design thinking.

This is part one of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking

In these two posts, I want to provide my outcomes, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, in my opinion urgently needed.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, the present practices and where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise and hype” to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present.

I am suggesting that perhaps design thinking is a current ‘burning platform’ and the term ‘design thinking’ is so loaded it might need to be reworked under different banners to allow it to evolve as it equally needs to be restated and deepened in its skills, practices, uses, and methodologies. Continue reading

The Growing Value in that Crowd- Encourage it Out.

Finding Value in the CrowdThe use of crowdsourcing: the goal for me, is to engage and move the crowd towards a new direction, by encouraging out individual thinking and discovery, searching for combining these contributions; ones that lead to novel, new answers that move a challenge forward into a solution,  one that has improved value over the existing.

The community is encouraged to form, lead and build, taking ideas and thinking onto discovery journeys, seeking out and building on each other’s contributions.

The individual building blocks (like Lego) connect into a collective whole, that piece together, progressively being combined, to solve a problem, to frame something that leads to an answer of meeting the challenge initially set up.

The overriding need is to release the forces within the crowd, by seeking out and gaining their engagement and connection as something ‘they’ believe they can contribute into; as here lies the discovery of many, combining and ‘feeding off’ of each other, to change the existing into the preferred.

This is the third post on crowdsourcing that might offer some general background statements. Part one is here and part two is here.

Crowdsourcing can be powerful if harnessed well.

After a fairly detailed exploratory working through crowdsourcing in this mini-series, I wanted to offer my ‘take’, to help our thinking though in formulating clearer positions in this, to see its increasing value as contributing into an innovation management system.

Continue reading

So Are You Thinking Crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing does have a real potential in my mind but does seem to have some formidable issues to work through, to be well understood and managed.

Partnering with experts in this field will help overcome many of these barriers or at least have reassuring suggestions for resolving them. Let’s take a look at some of these here in this post.

Certainly, I think over time we will learn what works for us and what becomes leading practice, so we can become a lot clearer on crowdsourcing position and value to us, within our context, terms and circumstances.

That is why it will be really hard to cite ‘best practice’ as each crowdsourcing challenge will need different inputs and will yield very different outcomes for each unique challenge or problem raised.

Continuing with my exploring crowdsourcing. Part one is here. Within this second post, I want to offer some different thoughts to work through around the issues and concerns that came out in my researching the subject. There is a part three coming out in a few days to finish this mini-series off.

Continue reading

Evaluating Crowdsourcing – offering a bright future?

Crowdsourcing 1Crowdsourcing has been growing in interest for some time to change our thinking in innovation discovery. It can hold a key for us to help solve vexing questions, real challenges, and connect different voices, that builds into a community that can combine and open up the fields of opportunity for new solutions.

Crowdsourcing does have both the potential to point towards disrupting possibilities, extends the concept of open innovation into a wider source of participation from a diverse community not possible to reach by other means as effectively. It can simply connect a ‘crowd’ of people to a common purpose. All in all, if applied carefully it can provide you with a leading edge of innovation knowledge and insight.

I wanted to step back a little and take a more measured look at crowdsourcing over three posts. This is part one.

Continue reading

That sudden surge within the crowd

crowd surge 2Have you ever been caught up in a sudden surge within a crowd, when it all suddenly moves, temporarily sweeping you off your feet, making the pulse race a little more until you actually begin to enjoy the sensation?

It brings out a sudden rush of emotions. It can be intense, it moves you in a particular direction, often you are struggling to regain control, and everything around you heightens in your awareness. You love it or you hate it.

Either way it gives a real rush.

Continue reading

Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation

SurrondedFinally I am completely surrounded. I have that feeling of being somewhat overwhelmed, I can’t twist and turn any more, it simply will not go away. Do I throw myself off the building or decide to listen a little longer? It really is forcing me to think.

Today it seems whenever I pick up a business book each chapter has a section on it. Also I seem not to be able to not fall over all the articles extolling its virtues, I mindlessly “Google it” and you can see your whole life flash before you, if you decided to investigate this seriously.

What am I talking about?  Well nothing other than Design Thinking. I know, most of you are so heavily into this you feel you might as well ‘flip’ over to the next article but are you, really?

Continue reading

Making innovation practice spread

Recently I have enjoyed reading Peter J Denning’s thoughts around innovation. He is Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Cebrowski Institure for information innovation at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

He discusses adoption, team practices, ubiquity, networks, language actions, the practice of innovation and other related topics. All are stimulating and worth finding the time to read but one caught my eye and I’ve gone back to it at least four, maybe five times. It intrigues me.  It is entitled “The idea idea” written in early 2011 and asks the question “What if practices rather than ideas are the main source of innovation?”

I think we all agree “ideas pervade our professional work” and as Professor Denning points out “we borrow them, we apply them, we solve problems with them, we create new ones, and we try to foster more of them in our teams”. We do put a disproportionately greater emphasis on ideas yet as he points out, all these great ideas and the energy applied to them we still end up with really poor adoption rates, he suggests our success rate in business are around 4%.

All of this ‘idea’ energy seems to be wasting so much time, resources and money. He puts this so well “we are idea rich, selection baffled and adoption poor”

The whole thrust of the article is perhaps that innovation is not ideas generated and I agree so much on this, but practices adopted. We need to spend more efforts on the skills and adoption of new practices and as he suggests “as the framework for new practices”

The two schools of thought

He suggests the two schools; if you believe ideas are the key to innovation you will put your efforts into generating, analysing, selecting and publicizing ideas where the emphasis is on creativity, imagination, borrowing and recombination. The other is adopting new practice as the key to innovation- the efforts go into selling others the value of doing new practice by building credibility it works, teaching people how to do it, furnishing tools to help them and providing the guidance and leadership to overcome obstacles and resistances.

I’m sitting more and more in the second school, I enjoy the first school of believing in ideas but I feel, well actually place my focus on the second school- the process of new practice. This is why and where I earn my living (or try too) or increasingly so. Also this is why I just keep going back to this article, it resonates so much for me, a confirmation of a confirmation.

He puts both cases well- outlining that “the diffusion model and the pipeline model share this common feature that they both put idea generation as their source. They differ on how ideas move from source to market”

The case of practices he starts by rightly stating “an idea that changes no one’s behaviour is only an invention, not an innovation”. He talks briefly of “the prime innovation pattern” as part of a new theory where innovators goal is to bring about changes of practice to change that “sense of disharmony” detected and they go through different activities to achieve this change. This gets to the point that the practice suddenly becomes adopted, someone starts doing something different, often in the early stages as improvisation, to overcome something blocking them from doing the job they need to meet. When it is seen as superior others imitate it, the practice spreads.

Where I feel Absorptive Capacity fit here

Many people have offered views on this adoption and promoting its practice as it is aiding making things better for others. I very much wish more people would look a little harder at Absorptive Capacity for many reasons, some of those I’ve previously outlined. The more we access, anchor and diffuse capability the greater chance for innovation. This links into Absorptive Capacity and for instance Zahra and Georges work on acquisition, assimilation, transformation and exploitation as the four phases of Absorptive Capacity.

Professor Denning rightly suggests it is finding the right balance between cultivating ideas and cultivating (new) practices. Maybe we should all question our balance on this?

He offers three thoughts

The iceberg theory- the visible top part (about 10%) is analogous to the set of ideas, the invisible submerged part (about 90%) relates to the practices of innovation. The practices keep the ideas afloat.

He suggests you beware of the idea idea- pursuing ideas for the sake of them- and you keep deferring adoption until the idea is perfected. He suggests you need to put 10% of your efforts into explaining the value and principles of your ideas and 90% into fostering the new practices you advocate and it is the work of adoption is from the beginning.

Lastly it is how  and what you learn from experiment and trial practices. It is then later  how you distil the knowledge gained into the pursuit of the emerging ideas, these emerging new practices. This makes for less value placed on ‘crude’ ideas, more on ‘refined’ ones that do raise the chance of market adoption significantly. You just keep filtering and improving, experimenting and exploring not just pushing ‘ideas’ simply through the innovation process. You seek to raise the adoption rates of not just translating the idea but the very new practices that get you to that success.

So, it is the connections between ideas and adoption, the idea adopted into practice, and it is the focus on the “dispersing” and “adapting” that accelerates innovation, simply not just the ‘idea’ alone worked through in ‘established’ ways.

What are your thoughts?