Design Thinking at Work- How Innovative

Review :

The book, Design Thinking At Work, by David Dunne is a well-written and thought-out treatise on what design thinking is and how it works in the real world. The description of it as a mindset that is playful, tolerant of ambiguity, and open to learning is very appropriate. There are some basic tools but these are secondary to the process and are "tools" not the activity.

Some businesses are better at this than other and there are examples given in the text where various iterations of design thinking can be seen. The initial example set in the Netherlands of Hoogendoorn and the creation of different styles of umbrellas shows the prototyping and out-of-the-box thinking aspects very well. Hoogendoorn used prototypes and tore apart various umbrellas, reassembled them in an effort to create one that did not get torn up in the windy conditions of Delft.

In design thinking the author notes that there are three aspects to consider. One is prototyping; two is deep understanding of the process; and three is creative reframing of the problem/issue. Businesses/inventors using design features in innovative labs work without boundaries. They are free-spirits given a license to explore boundaries that exist for the rest of the business. One example, not mentioned in the book, was the Division of Way Cool Technology that Apple Computer used in developing the iPod. This like most innovation efforts removed, as the Mindset Studio sign describes it: "Replace the fear of the unknown with curiosity."

Three tensions exist in a design thinking process 1) inclusion (aka mindset); 2) disruption; and 3) perspective. If an organization can embrace these dynamic tensions in what might be a rather staid hierarchy there is a greater chance that the strategic focus can lead to operational decisions and make success and collaboration more likely.

Reading this treatise was quick from some aspects being only about 200 pages long but it was so deep that it can be pondered for days. It would be advisable for both innovation-minded administrators, engineering faculty and students as well as those individuals seeking to enhance and enlarge the company business in a successful and perhaps in some, as of yet, unthought of way. Definitely would recommend a read.


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