Tag prototype

“A Benchmark Anchored in Reality Forces You to Articulate a Clear Point of View About What’s Truly Important”

"A Benchmark Anchored in Reality Forces You to Articulate a Clear Point of View About What’s Truly Important" | rethinked.org

“Always going back to a benchmark anchored in reality forces you to articulate a clear point of view about what’s truly important.” – Diego Rodriguez

I found this excellent insight from IDEO‘s Diego Rodriguez as his contribution to LinkedIn’s Best Advice series. Recounting a time at IDEO when his team had produced a wide array of dazzling prototypes, Rodiguez shares how they felt stuck in deciding which one to select:

IDEO founder David Kelley strolled by to say hello and to watch us demonstrate our ideas. He listened patiently as we explained our dilemma, and responded with one simple question: “What’s the best alternative available to people today? Choose compared to that.”

Behind David’s powerful question is the best innovation advice I’ve ever received:

Compare to reality, not to some imaginary standard of perfection.

The truth was that even our least amazing prototype was miles ahead of the competition. It also happened to be the simplest concept, and the one that most tightly addressed the actual needs we’d heard from people we had interviewed and observed. Even if it didn’t fulfill our fantasies of perfection, we chose that option as the way forward, and we ended up nailing it: our award-winning design sold like hotcakes. Fifteen years later, it’s still in production, making people happy.

This is a key insight which speaks to one of the core tenets of design thinking: that the solution be created from a point of deep empathy and understanding so that it truly serves the need of the target audience, not the ego of the designer.

Some say that rooting your choices in reality is a sure path to mediocrity, but nothing could be further from the truth. Dedicating yourself to understanding what people really want — how they’ll experience a product in the real world — forces you to get away from your desk and make a tangible difference. Instead of just talking about a grand paradise of what might be, putting in the effort to understand people’s day-to-day lives, and then actually producing something that works, is what separates a true innovation from a merely good idea.

Great innovators dream, but they are also relentless about comparing those dreams to the real world, and acting accordingly.

Source: Best Advice: Want to Achieve Excellence? Compare Ideas to Reality

“Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux” – How Do You Define Design?

"Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux" - How Do You Define Design?  | rethinked.org

“Design is making. Design is thinking with your hands. Design is arranging the world around us to ensure the functioning and well-being of our communities. Design is the inherent human capability of understanding a challenge and its context followed by the instinctive act of rapid, iterative trial and error until a solution is found. Design is having trust in your intuition to take non-linear creative leaps in order to beat habit. Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux.” –  Matthias Reichwald

I’m always interested in hearing how people define design and I quite liked the definition above, which I found yesterday while reading an article on Design Indaba. What do you think?

How do you define design? 

Source: What Design Thinking Can Do For Africa via Design Indaba

5 Things I Understood While Walking 500 Miles …*

5 Things I Understood While Walking 500 Miles ...* | rethinked.org

It has now been nearly a month since I reached Santiago. Since ending this bit of my journey, I have spent the past few weeks attempting to digest the experience and reflect on some of the things I understood during my walk, which I hope to translate into daily habits and behaviors in my life and work moving forward. I’ll write a longer post about each of these five reflections in the coming weeks to provide some context and, hopefully, avenues for further exploration. There’s nothing truly groundbreaking about these observations, in fact they are things that I have been thinking and writing about often on the blog. This is why I am using the term ‘understood’, rather than learned, because these reflections are things I’ve learned a long time ago, but the beauty of the walking and thinking combination, is that it gives one a different kind of understanding of previous knowledge. Without further ado, here is what walking 500 miles has helped me to understand differently and more deeply.

 “My thoughts go to sleep unless they and I wander.” – Montaigne

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T r a v e l   L i g h t l y – One can only carry so much

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S t a r t   W a l k i n g – You can make the whole journey one step/arrow at a time and besides, in the end, the best part is not knowing where you’re going or how you’re going to get there

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B e   O p e n –  To Yourself, Others & the Unknown – You don’t need to travel far to unhouse yourself

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S t a n d   B y   Y o u r   C h o i c e s – When the going gets tough, lean into the discomfort, after all, you’re the one that chose to put yourself in this situation

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G r o w   I n   P e a c e – Transformation, it turns out, is astonishingly banal

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{ Tinkerers Delight } Download PSFK’s Makers’ Manual …*

Cool free new resource alert for rethinkers–the PSFK’s Makers’ Manual.

The Maker’s Manual explores how everyone from do-it-yourselfers and artists to inventors and entrepreneurs are leveraging new tools, platforms and services to take their ideas from concepts to reality.

learn, make & rethink …* 

Buzzwords Can Be Dangerous If They Don’t Promote Sustainable Changes In Thinking, Doing & Shared Understanding …*

Buzzwords Can Be Dangerous If They Don’t Promote Sustainable Changes In Thinking, Doing & Shared Understanding ...* | rethinked.org

You may find the confession I’m about to make a bit strange given how central design thinking is to our team’s work as well as my rethinked*annex side project. But here it goes: I am sick and tired of talking about design thinking. As you know, design thinking is a huge buzzword right now in innovation and management circles. Unfortunately, most conversations and articles about the discipline center on either embracing it as a cure-all methodology for every single one of our innovation and creativity woes or decrying it as a depthless, overhyped, passing fad. I find these two binary views to critically miss the point about what design thinking is and what it can offer.

Just yesterday, browsing LinkedIn’s “Management Consulting” news tab, I found two separate articles detailing the woes of design thinking. In “Design Thinking” Destroyed Us, Brian de Haaff  writes:

The problem is when this approach is fervently adopted as the only approach to solving challenges and delivering great customer experiences. And this is where it all went wrong. Everything looked like a problem that we could “design think” our way out of to the UX teams.

Even problems that no one on the product team thought were customer or business problems became ripe for long design-centered studies by people who never previously spoke with customers and definitely did not grok our product.

I see three big problems with the above passage. First, nothing about design thinking mandates that it should be embraced as a step by step recipe. “When this approach is fervently adopted as the only approach to solving challenges” –who is doing the fervent, exclusive, adoption? That is a result of the company’s culture and management, not the discipline of design thinking itself. The second issue is the “long design-centered studies” that he describes. As IDEO’s Kelley brothers like to say, “Fail faster, succeed sooner.” Design thinking is about rapid prototyping and iteration, not months of market research. Also, and perhaps more worryingly, why are these studies being conducted by people who are not at all plugged in to the environment of the challenge they are trying to solve–those “people who never previously spoke with customers and definitely did not grok our product”? If there were a design thinking mandate it would be to empathize. Design thinking is, above all, human-centered–meaning the solutions focus on the actual perspective and experience of the people invested in the challenge, not on unexplored assumptions of what that experience might be.

The third big issue here is “everything looked like a problem that we could “design think”.” I think this statement reflects a serious misunderstanding of the design thinking process. It is not simply a list of steps to problem solve, it’s a way to explore and redefine the problem landscape to uncover more holistic and potent solutions. One of the major benefits of design thinking is how richly it allows one to explore and reframe the problem one is trying to solve. In design thinking, teams use an initial definition of the challenge at hand as a springboard for further exploration. I have never participated in a design thinking challenge where the initial statement of the problem wasn’t later reframed and recrafted.

de Haaff goes on to list some of the specific reasons why his company’s “application of design thinking destroyed progress and fractured the UX groups from the product and engineering teams“:

“The core issue was that design thinking fundamentally requires that no matter how obvious the solution may seem, many solutions must be created for consideration and testing.” 

Again, design thinking doesn’t fundamentally require anything–it’s a tool. If you had to mow your lawn and you had at your disposal a lawn mower and a pair of scissors and decided to use the scissors, when you found yourself exhausted and discouraged at having wasted your afternoon cutting only a small patch of grass with your scissors instead of finishing the job in an hour with the lawn mower, you wouldn’t blame your scissors for the poor outcome, would you? Tools are just tools, their impact and effectiveness depends on how we choose to use them.

I do not mean to pick on Mr. de Haaff, but I think his article illustrates a lot of the problematic ways in which design thinking is being framed and experienced. Design thinking is a human-centered problem solving methodology–it gives us a framework and a set of tools to problem solve. It is neither a miracle nor a curse, it is what we make it. Which is what makes Tamara Christensen‘s interview on think jar collective about Demystifying Design Thinking such a refreshing and important read:

Buzzwords can be dangerous if they don’t promote sustainable changes in thinking and doing, and shared understanding. They can be easily dismissed. Ironically, I find that most designers have trouble clarifying exactly how they think and making their own process explicit for others. The most simple definition of design that I use is by Herbert Simon, from Sciences of the Artificial (MIT Press, 1969) where he describes design as “transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones”. Design thinking, therefore, is basically about the kind of mental activity that facilitates this transformation. Fortunately IDEO and the d.school at Stanford (among others) have done a great job of promoting the process and providing a wealth of information about how it’s done and why it’s valuable.

I think the biggest obstacle to understanding Design Thinking is to treat it as a rigid process, a series of steps that must be followed in a particular sequence. I have seen this happen time and again when a team tries to apply Design Thinking with questionable success and then decides “Design Thinking doesn’t work.” In reality, what doesn’t work is treating Design Thinking like a recipe that must be adhered to. It is more like a mindset, multiple modes of thinking and doing that are iteratively utilized as the project requires. Design Thinking is first and foremost about people and keeping them at the center of the process.

The most common modes are Empathize (with humans), Frame (an opportunity from the perspective of a human), Ideate (about how to address the opportunity), Prototype (possible solutions) and Test (your ideas with people using the prototypes).

IN MY EXPERIENCE THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL THINGS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT DESIGN THINKING (AS A PROCESS AND A MINDSET) ARE:

  1. It is human-centered and people-powered, keep stakeholders engaged as much as possible.
  2. Empathy is an essential and transformational experience for fueling creativity.
  3. Prototyping is about building to think and test ideas. The faster we fail, the better.

Source: Demystifying Design Thinking: Interview With Tamara Christensen via Think Jar Collective

{ 8 Tips for Making …* } When You Make New Things, You’re Joining In the Most Ancient Dialogue That Humans Have Ever Had

{ 8 Tips for Making ...* } When You Make New Things, You're Joining In the Most Ancient Dialogue That Humans Have Ever Had | rethinked.org

Right in time for all your weekend projects, here are eight of Mythbusters’ Adam Savage‘s ten commandments of making, which he shared at this year’s Maker Faire. I’ve transcribed my favorite eight below (the last two being rather technical — measure carefully so that you know when to use high tolerance versus loose tolerance and use more cooling fluid.) These are some great tips that apply across most creative endeavors, whether you are making a tangible object or ‘thinkering’ out an idea. You can view the full speech here, Savage shares his ten tips on making in the first ten minutes and spends the remaining forty minutes answering questions from the audience.

What will you be making? Send us some pictures!

make & rethink …

MAKE SOMETHING – ANYTHING }

“The first rule of making, I will say, is make something–anything: cook, weld, carve, sculpt. Anything that you need to make, it’s important that you make it. Humans do two things that make us unique from all other animals: we use tools and we tell stories. And when you make something, you’re doing both at once–you’re telling a story about your desire, you’re telling a story about something that you want, you’re telling a story about something you see needs to be made and you are using your tools to improve yourself and improve the world around you. When you make new things, you’re joining in the most ancient dialogue that humans have ever had.”

MAKE SOMETHING, OCCASIONALLY, THAT ACTUALLY IMPROVES YOUR LIFE }

“From a toilet paper holder that actually works to a toaster that’s slightly improved. When you make something that you use every day as opposed to something that’s useless, I can’t even tell you how good it feels. Even like a handle on a drawer, you make a handle on a drawer and you’re using it every single day, the patina of your use that it gets feels really good. And it’s another story.”

START NOW }

“Start now. Start right now to do the thing you want to do, there is no time like right now and do it with the things in front of you. If you want to weld a car frame but you don’t have a welder or a car or a frame, go ahead and mock it up out of cardboard.”

{ LEARN SKILLS THROUGH PROJECTS }

“I can’t learn any skills unless I have a project to learn with. I need a goal. […] I can’t learn to weld just by someone showing me that it should sound like frying eggs and you set the dials like this. I need to end up with Wolverine claws or a sword or a pair of stilts or something like that. Always try to find a project that will get you interested in the thing that you want to build.”

{ ASK- ASK QUESTIONS, ASK FOR HELP, ASK FOR ADVICE, ASK FOR FEEDBACK }

“Ask for advice and when you find someone you trust, ask for feedback. I’ll tell you, it’s very funny, among adults we rarely actually turn to each other and say, ‘what do you think of the work that I’m doing?’ And it’s because that places us in a very vulnerable spot. But again, if you can find a teacher or a mentor or someone whose opinion you really respect, asking them very specifically about how they think you’re doing can give you incredible insight. I’ve done it a few times in my life and every single time, I’ve gotten a tremendous perspective on what I was actually doing.”

{ SHARE

“That is really important. There is nothing that makes me angrier than when somebody does something beautiful and you ask how it’s done and they say it’s a secret. No secrets! What are you protecting? Nobody’s going to take your technique. Nobody has a monopoly on being you and if you think that your technique is what makes you interesting, you’re being ridiculous. So share your techniques because when you do, someone is going to come back to you with a better way of doing it and you’re going to learn something from them.”

{ RECOGNIZE THAT FAILURE & DISCOURAGEMENT ARE PART OF THE PROCESS }

“Please recognize that discouragement and failure are part of every single make project. Not something that happens every now and then–in every single project you will find yourself discouraged and you will fail at some point. If you recognize that, if you recognize that you’re going to fail, at least when it’s about to happen–when you are getting discouraged because you hit a snag and you don’t have the part and it’s Sunday night and it’s four a.m.–at least then you know that that’s part of what’s going to happen. And that the next morning it may be a little harder to get started but if you know that mechanism, you can actually keep going. I personally, and I’ve said this many times before, whenever I’m making something, about 70 percent of the way in, I actually think I have no idea what I’m doing and I hate what I’m building. And Fellini even said that he knows that one of his films is almost finished when he totally despises it. And frankly, that 70, 80, 90 percent mark–the closer you get to the end, the more scared I get because it turns out that I hate finishing things. I’d much rather keep working on them and keep getting that endorphin rush of the Ebay research and finding that part that I didn’t know existed. Actually getting all the way to the end is a little bit difficult but if you recognize what your mechanism is, where the places you’ll get frustrated, they are your friends. You can welcome them in. This is also part of mindfulness and meditation–understand that those thoughts are going to happen and embrace them. Look, they still are going to suck, I’m not gonna lie to you, it sucks to fail, it hurts to cut yourself, but it’s going to happen in every single project.”

{ MAKE THINGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE

“I can’t even describe to you, how much pleasure I get when I make something and then I give it to somebody else and they get a story, they get the thing that I’ve made. They get the fruit of a couple of hours of my time and concentration and they get to possess it. It does make you vulnerable when you give your stuff away, you should recognize that. Giving your stuff away does actually place you in a slightly vulnerable position but it is also a really magical one. So occasionally, when you’re making something, give it away. Give it to other people.”

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[Hat Tip: Adam Savage’s 10 Commandments of DIYing via Lifehacker, published May 20, 2014]

Stanford’s Dave Evans & Bill Burnett on Using Design Thinking to Address the “Wicked Problem” of Designing Your Life & Career

Here’s a great ‘open office hours’ chat with Stanford’s Dave Evans and Bill Burnett, who co-teach a course called “Designing Your Life ” at the d.life lab. The course uses design thinking to address the “wicked problem” of designing your life and career.

Reminds you of anything? That’s right–rethinked*annex! For those of you unfamiliar with rethinked*annex, it is a side project that I started last year in which I experiment at an individual and personal level with some of the methodologies that we explore on the blog. In particular, design thinking, integrative thinking and positive psychology. My goal had been to do three months with each and while I completed the design thinking and integrative thinking cycles, I never got around to experimenting with positive psychology. Get excited, because starting this week, I am getting back into the swing of things and will post about my experiments in positive psychology here on rethinked …* every Thursday.

Check out Bill and Dave’s course website for tons of other inspiring resources on design thinking your way to the life you want.

Stanford Open Office Hours: Dave Evans and Bill Burnett via Stanford University, published January 30, 2014.

– Passion is a capacity that can be developed, not an inherent attribute –

The research says that maybe only two or three out of ten people actually have a passion that they’ve identified, that they can work into. We believe that actually, passion turns out to be what you develop after you find the things that you enjoy doing.

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– Shedding Dysfunctional beliefs –

These are two, what we call dysfunctional beliefs, and once you get rid of both of those –that your major is linked to your job and that your passion is somehow an innate quality–once you realize neither of those things are actually true, you’re really free to use design thinking to start designing the life you want to have.

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– Counsel vs. Advice –

Do we give advice or do we give counsel? And we make a distinction there, by the way, which is counsel is when we help you figure out what you’re thinking and advice is when we tell you what we think and they’re very different.

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– Start where you’re at –

If you’re in the situation where there’s lots and lots of things you’re excited and interested about but you can’t pick one, our advice, again, is to start where you’re at. There will be one or two things that maybe have a slightly different emotional energy in them than the other ones. So you go find somebody who does something like that. You look at the future you–someone who’s already living the you you might become–and you go talk to them.

There’s a place again where the design thinking really impacts reality. We kind of go with prototype iteration, try stuff, see what works, bias to action.

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– BIAS TO ACTION & REFRAMING THE PROBLEM –

Bias to action — don’t try to decide your way forward, just do something. Design your way forward. And the second is reframe. Reframe the problem from, “Gee, I can’t figure out which one of these is my most favorite to all of these are good, I’m just going to start doing them.”

So if i’m a generalist with equal interests, I’m in a much more powerful position because I have lots of available starting places to begin to understand what it is I really want to do. As opposed to “I can’t possibly choose,” you’re not choosing yet, you’re just starting. Which is a very powerful reframe. In the old position, since I can’t choose, I can’t start, I have no power. In the reframed position, I’m in a better situation than a specialist. Which is the design point of view, you know you don’t know the answer. Many people in this vocational way-finding, we call it, think you have to know the answer at the beginning and then you implement. And then you’re screwed. But what it really means is, “I just know what I know,” take the next step, it will be revealed as you go.

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– On Figuring Out Who You Want To Be When You Grow Up –

It’s a pretty common question, and again, it’s one of those things where we’d like to sort of reframe the answer. Because you can’t know, ultimately, who you will become when you, quote, ‘grow up’. And by the way, that’s the good news –do you really want to be able to know at twenty-two who your sixty year-old self should be? I mean do you really want this twenty-two year old running the next fifty years of your life? We hope to find out things we couldn’t possibly have imagined. The design perspective is, when I’m starting a new design, I don’t actually know the answer. I’m going to design into that possible future. So we reframe the question not as, “what do I want to be when I grow up?,” it’s like, “where am I right now and what is the next step I can take to move towards the best possible version of me?”

– NAVIGATING VS. WAY-FINDING –

We frame that with language. So the way the question is usually posed, assumes you could navigate to where you should be. That you know the end point. I need to get to Fresno so I just GPS myself to Fresno. But we can’t, because I don’t know where I’m going so I can’t navigate, so I have to way-find. What’s way-finding? It’s moving from where you are to the next available place that you can make a decision about. It’s the same thing as the generalist deciding, “hey, what’s available to me?”

– COHERENCE –

By coherence we mean, you know, “who am I? What do I believe and what am I doing?” If I understand what those things are–what do I think about life and who I am, what I’m actually doing and where I’m trying to go–if I can describe those things articulately and interconnect the dots, not that they’re perfect, but even understanding where the compromises are, I’m living coherently. Who I am, what I’m doing all lines up for me, that’s the coherent life and even positive psychology research demonstrates pretty clearly, if I can articulate what those things are–who I am, what I believe and what I’m doing–and I can understand the interrelationship between them, my chance of feeling good about my life, that it’s a meaningful experience, is much higher.

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– ENCORE CAREER –

Usually the best place to start is what did you notice that you’re already doing that you could grow into a new thing? Or, who’s that person you used to be that you left behind and do you want to bring her back out of the freezer and give her another shot?

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– The Courage to accept the truth about yourself  –

You’ve got to accept the truth about yourself. So we have all of our students write two things: a work view and a world view. What do you think work is for and how does that connect to why you’re here? And it takes a lot of courage not to sell out those two ideas about yourself.

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{ Friday Fun Day } Tinker, Play & Prototype With Build With Chrome …*

Build: A Chrome Experiment with LEGO® via Google Chrome, published January 28, 2014.

Tinkerers and design thinkers rejoice, Google Chrome has brought the endless possibilities of LEGO bricks to the web with their latest Chrome Experiment – Build With Chrome.

Build. A partnership between Google Chrome and LEGO®

Welcome to Build – the largest LEGO® set the world has ever seen. Developed with the latest web technology in Chrome, Build is a place for everyone to imagine, create and explore building with LEGO bricks online.

Choose to build on any plot in the world across your laptop, phone, or tablet. Once you’ve created something, publish it on the map, and share it with your friends.

If you’d like to train to become a great Master Builder, visit the Build Academy. Complete a series of exciting challenges over different locations and you can unlock cool new Lego bricks along the way. Plus, you’ll meet loads of characters from The LEGO® Movie!

Fire up your Chrome browser and head over to Build With Chrome to start building. { Friday Fun Day } Tinker, Play & Prototype With Build With Chrome ...* | rethinked.org

Not sure how to use the controls? No problem, check out the Build Academy and master the online LEGO skills in a series of guided challenges

{ Friday Fun Day } Tinker, Play & Prototype With Build With Chrome ...* | rethinked.org

I especially loved the growth mindset tone of the assistant in the Build Academy–it’s all about practice and effort over time.

{ Friday Fun Day } Tinker, Play & Prototype With Build With Chrome ...* | rethinked.org

Share your buildings and explore others.

{ Friday Fun Day } Tinker, Play & Prototype With Build With Chrome ...* | rethinked.org

build, play & rethink …

David Kelley on Creative Confidence, Building to Think, Defining Innovation, Multidisciplinary Teams & So Much More…*

David Kelley, founder of IDEO consultants and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, shares his thoughts and experiences on a wide range of topics in this engaging hour-long conversation and Q & A with longtime television journalist, Richard Sergay. From building creative confidence, embracing failure, learning by building, multidisciplinary teams, defining innovation to facing his own mortality and his friendship with Steve Jobs, Kelley’s pointed and valuable insights are sure to resonate deeply with anyone interested in rethinking…* how we approach the challenges of the 21st century. I have transcribed some of my favorite stories and insights from the conversation, which took place at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships 8th Reunion & Conference at Stanford, July 11-14, but the full video is well worth a watch.

d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity | via Knight Foundation, published July 18, 2013.

{ CURIOSITY } As a designer, you kind of do everything in your life with intention. You know, like I decided to wear these shoes, or this wall is painted exactly or not painted the way exactly because of intention. And so, when you’re that way, you’re always wondering why things are because you’re about to have to design the future and so being curious about the way things are now and being empathetic to people is the way that you […] you know, if you’re responsible for painting a picture of the future with your ideas in it, being hyper diligent about understanding what makes things stick.

{ CREATIVITY } Everybody is wildly creative–go into a kindergarten class, go into a first grade, just don’t go into a fifth grade class. But as long as you go early enough, it’s really clear that everybody is wildly creative. When we started working on this notion of building creative confidence in people, we were thinking we would have to do some remedial work, it’s just not true. I mean hundreds of students come through this building and they’re all wildly creative. We just have to remove some of the blocks. What happens is, somewhere along the way, you opt out of thinking of yourself as creative–a teacher said that wasn’t a very good drawing, or you don’t pick up the piano in the first lesson. I mean, I know what this is because I opted out of athletics. I said, “I’m not athletic,” and that allowed me to play sports for the rest of my life but I told everybody that I wasn’t athletic so they lowered the bar. If you say, “I’m not creative,” that’s a strategy for having people not judge you. Because when we look at it, the big fear is this fear of being judged. The reason you move from thinking of yourself being creative, to thinking of yourself as not creative, is really a fear of being judged–that other kids can draw better than you or your idea is not going to be up to snuff.

{ MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS & THE GENESIS OF THE D.SCHOOL } People have been talking about multidisciplinary teams for like 25 years and at Stanford, I can tell you, that meant that faculty from different departments came together, they had a meeting, they fought a little bit and they said, “I’m never coming back to this meeting again.” And then we said, “check, we’re multidisciplinary.” But what I saw after I got tenure and I started teaching classes with different professors–I taught with an art professor, I taught with a computer science professor, I taught with a business school professor–is that when the students from the different departments came together, it was kind of easier to come up with innovations because they were coming from different places IF there was a glue that held them together. The problem with the meetings, where they didn’t work, is that there was no common methodology. So what everybody wanted to do is to do the same thing that they are doing now and have everybody else do it that way. And so the idea for the d.school came from the fact that I noticed people would sign up for our methodology. […] What we saw early on was that design, for whatever reason, was a methodology, was nonthreatening. It’s all so human-centered, so when you got people from different backgrounds together and you said, “Ok, let’s go out and build empathy for the people we’re trying to help in Africa or waiting for the train, or checking in to the hospital,” for some reason, all these various disciplines, these big shot professors who had been trying to win a Nobel Prize, going in in their way, we’re willing to do that. So I felt like I was just, luckily, in the discipline that had a methodology, we call it design thinking, that people would sign up to do. And so I decided that I had to try to touch as many people at the university as possible and I proposed this notion of an institute that could bring all seven schools together and that we would do it in this way that I had seen prototyped in these other classes. […] It’s really about this notion that in this multidisciplinary world, I think diversity is the number one thing that correlates to better innovation. So different people, with different ideas, from different backgrounds–if you can get them to have a methodology where they can build on each other’s ideas, you, by definition, get to places, to breakthrough ideas because those brains have never done the mind-meld to the result in that new thing. The reason that I ended up at the center of this is that our methodology seems to be a universally acceptable way to do innovation, problem-solving, and that kind of stuff.

{ DEFINING SUCCESS AT THE D.SCHOOL } Our success, if you can call it that, has to do with finding a way to get these students to think of themselves in a creative way. And it’s through this confidence that they build by doing–everything is a project, everything is a real world project, and so they see that they have this sense of the world and that they can do what they set out to do.

{ DEFINING INNOVATION } Somebody, I’m trying to remember who, said, “innovation is creativity plus implementation.” I think that resonates with me. Being creative is this notion of having an open mind and trying different things and not having this fear of being judged or failing or that kind of stuff. But innovation is doing something that has real impact on the world. So taking those new ideas and sorting them and synthesizing them and deciding what to do and measuring its impact is really innovation. I usually try to stay away from the word creativity, because it has this meaning associated with talent and artistic that I don’t really mean when I say “creative,” and try to use the word innovation most of the time.

{ FAILURE } The trick is to kind of fail early on so that you get to a new place. […] We reward a spectacular failure and a spectacular success in the same way in the early stages of the project. That allows you to have insights and build a point of view that comes from a wider range of possibilities because you’re not fearful about failing. But then, as we start to converge, we’re not looking for failure, as it were. […] It’s actually hard to fail in our process because it’s so iterative. So, you basically come up with ideas, you show them to everybody that is a stakeholder, including the person who is going to use it, they tell you what’s wrong with it and then you go back and redesign it or even redefine the problem. […] And so, if you do enough iterations, it’s hard to have a failure in the end, because it’s built in that we’re going to cycle through and improve and improve and show it to the people. So we’re not surprised when the product or service goes out into the world because we’ve messed with a lot of people before that.

{ BUILD TO THINK } We really believe, at IDEO and the d.school, that the kind of fastest way to get to an innovation is to not do a lot of strategizing and planning–you know, cash flow analysis out ten years and stuff like that–and that all that planning is useful but AFTER you’ve done what we would say ‘building’. We call it a bias toward action. So, if you want to improve the experience of taking the train to San Francisco, you could start analyzing the train and all that stuff but what we would do is just go talk to Caltrans and have them give us a car and try a bunch of stuff. You know, like tear the seats out, serve coffee on the platform or try to get our bikes on–do a bunch of stuff. We think it’s a way of thinking. This building, this doing, prototyping, whatever we’re going to call it, is a way of thinking. As opposed to the kind of grubby thing manufacturing does after all the decisions are made. We spend a lot of time getting the students and at IDEO, to kind of think about how can you be really clever about jumping right in and finding out as much as you can from building. And we don’t mean like in a machine shop, we mean by doing something in the real place, with the real people and it really works for us because then you start to have real empathy, you start to have real understanding of the situation–what’s really going on on that platform when people are waiting for the train and what’s really going on when they find their way out of the station or how they book their seat in the first place.

[ H/T ] d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity via John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, published July 18, 2013.

Keith Yamashita on The 9 Habits of Great Creative Teams…*

The Teamworks Habit | via SYPartners

“The great teams really work hard at it. They cultivate specific habits that they do that makes them great.” 

In this fantastic talk from last year’s 99u ConferenceSYPartners chairman & founder, Keith Yamashita, highlights nine positive habits of great team culled from SYPartners two decades of collaboration with over a thousand teams. Yamashita lists the top nine habits of great teams and shares some strategies for building the capabilities necessary to fully access and master these nine habits.

SYPartners has also been in the process of developing an app, titled Teamworks, which will act as ” a set of tools to spark teams to work at their very best.” While the Teamworks app, currently in private beta, will not be released until later this year, you can download free of charge SYPartner’s previous app, Unstuck, a “new in-the-moment approach to personal growth for anyone who wants to live better every day. Combining personalized digital tools with tips and know-how from a community of other people facing stuck moments, Unstuck makes it easy to get on-demand coaching whenever you need it.”

  1. SUPERPOWERS ~ Great teams, when they really are at their best, start first with the foundation of each person on their team understanding their superpower–what they do better and more extraordinarily than anyone else on their team.
  2. PURPOSE ~ The habit of purpose-making–what does this mean? Why should we care? Why is this interesting? That purpose-making turns out to be absolutely essential to how teams become great.
  3. FORCES ~ Great teams see the forces at play and capitalize on them.
  4. BELIEF ~ Whatever your definition of greatness is, it almost always requires building belief in others so that they’ll take action.
  5. DECISIONS ~ Decisions of how we need to work together become vital.
  6. BOLD MOVES ~ Great teams don’t try to do everything, they focus on the most important things.
  7. DUOS‘ { TRUST } ~ We have a particular term at SYPartners which we call “Duo”, it’s the smallest atomic unit of trust. It’s you and me, we have nowhere else to shovel the blame.
  8. REFRAME ~ A team’s resilience, it’s ability to reframe something to make it positive becomes an essential habit.
  9. OUTCOMES ~ Great teams identify the outcomes.

Enjoy & rethink…*

Keith Yamashita: The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams from 99U on Vimeo.

[ H/T: Keith Yamashita: The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams via 99u]

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