Tim Brown On Change

Looks like Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, is starting to discuss his new book which is due out shortly. Change by Design is a book about how design thinking can be used to transform organizations and inspire innovation.

Brown recently posted a brief video in which he shares some thoughts about how design thinking can lead to better organizational innovation.

Tim Brown on Change By Design from IDEO on Vimeo.

I like his introduction about how the mind map offers an alternate structure to his book, and how not every book needs a traditional table of contents. I can’t quite say what the book has to offer but I will be reading it. I’m always looking to learn more about design thinking – and I have a feeling Brown’s new book will help me to achieve that goal.

In addition to this video, the latest issue of BusinessWeek features a brief excerpt from Change by Design. It also points to three other new books coming out (one by Roger Martin) that discuss design thinking.

Speaking of learning more about design thinking I recently learned about a blog called The Design Thinking Blog – you can’t get much more specific about design thinking than that. This is where I found the link to Tim Brown’s video. I recommend you follow the blog if you’d like to be learning more about design thinking.

Learning More About Innovation From Tim Brown

Fans of Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO Corporation, will be pleased to know they can learn some new things from Brown – or at least obtain more insight into his thinking about creating a more innovative organization. Two new resources featuring Brown recently became available.

Brown is interviewed in the November 2008 issue of The McKinsey Quarterly in an article titled “Lessons from innovation’s front lines: An interview with IDEO’s CEO.” What I like about this inteview is that Brown gives some fairly straightforward answers to questions about how to achieve better innovation. For example, when asked to explain what gets in the way of innovation Brown answers “The biggest barrier is needing to know the answer before you get started. This often manifests itself as a desire to have proof that your idea is worthwhile before you actually start the project. This kills a lot of innovation.” I think this happens in libraries quite a bit where innovative ideas get shot down because librarians can’t prove that their idea is going to be a good or successful idea. If you read the article you’ll get a clearer picture of this.

If you think you can learn more from Brown about creativity and innovative by seeing and hearing what he can share – not just from reading his interview – then you are in luck. Now you can watch a 27-minute presentation by Brown on creativity and the link between it and play. TED recently posted a video of Brown giving a talk at a conference on serious play. This is a fun talk with Brown giving the audience a number of interesting participative activities – surely nothing you’ve tried at your library instruction sessions. He focuses on how play is used at IDEO to encourage creativity. The big challenge is getting adults to drop their fear of being judged by peers so they can be more spontaneous and playful. He also speaks about the idea of divergence and convergence. Designers at IDEO typically diverge and engage in play in order to discover new ideas and then converge in a more serious way with their team colleagues to apply their ideas to solutions. He boils the application of play for innovation to three things: 1) exploration – go for quantity of ideas and don’t worry about what works 2)build – use your hands to make something (prototypes) and 3) role play – put yourself in the shoes of your user.

I wonder if, based on Brown’s advice, we might not do better with our students if we could somehow encourage they to be playful when searching for information – which means trying new things and experimenting. While college students have long left behind their childhood creativity (more about this in the video) they are not yet that far removed from it.

Design Thinking Blog Started By Tim Brown

You know I’m always on the lookout for new and valued sources for reading and learning more about design thinking. Well a good one appeared this week, a new blog by one of the gurus of design thinking. It looks good and should continue to be a useful resource for learning about design thinking.

Tim Brown is the CEO of IDEO and I’ve mentioned his work before or quoted him. Few individuals are as closely associated with the discipline of design thinking as is Brown. Now Brown will be sharing his thoughts in a blog. His blog is simply called Design Thinking. Turns out Brown is writing a book based on his well received June 2008 Harvard Business Review article on design thinking. In his message about the blog he refers to the book and says he will be sharing his ideas and gathering information from readers’ comments. I have to say that the comments I’ve read are pretty good. In fact the comments from just one post lead me to three different resources related to design thinking that were totally new to me. So clearly there are lots of folks out there interested in design thinking who have resources and ideas to share. I expect that Brown’s blog will be a focal point for the design thinking community.

Perhaps of less importance, but possibly of interest to those who would like more detail on the inner workings of design at IDEO, I came across another blog called IDEO Labs that takes you inside the process that the IDEO designers go through as they work on projects. It appears that it might appeal to those with more of a technical interest in IDEO’s prototyping process, but it could also be a good way to learn more about the various stages of the design thinking process. I’ll check it out from time to time.

Learn More About DT AND UX With Two New Resources

I first came across an article about user experience (UX) in January 2006. At the time I was doing some research for the book that would become Academic Librarianship by Design. Almost immediately I saw the connection between the two. User experiences could – probably should – be the outcome of a design thinking process. A library user experience, in particular, struck me as a challenging concept. What would that possibly mean for the end-users? What would constitute, to their way of thinking, a great library user experience? Whatever that might be it seemed reasonable that design activities could help to produce a much improved library user experience.

Since then the book has been completed and I’ve gone on to read many more articles about DT and UX, and I continue to explore, with you, how these two practices can be applied to benefit our libraries. Though they provide no immediate answers, and perhaps might be best consumed by someone new to both DT and UX, I’m going to recommend that you look at the following two new resources.

First, take an hour and watch a highly informative video about UX. “Subject to Change: Creating Great Products and Services For an Uncertain World” features Brandon Schauer and David Yerba, two designers from the firm Adaptive Path. In this Google Talks video presentation they share the key concepts from their new book of the same title. I took away a couple of ideas. First, these folks excel at keeping their explanations simple. User experience – that’s all the user cares about. The experience is the product. Do they enjoy themselves, do they accomplish what they need to do, and do they manage to do it the way they want – with simplicity? Well, there’s more to UX than that, but that’s a good start. I also like their way of explaining the type of design they bring to the process of developing the user experience – an activity everyone in the organization can embrace no matter what their background. Then they discuss The Long Wow – a Wow experience that repeatedly delivers great delights for the user, is memorable, and impresses. In other words, users remember it and return again for more of the same.  I’m looking forward to reading the book.

But how do you design that type of experience for your library? If you haven’t done much formal reading about design thinking now is a good time to start. And what better way to start than with a basic article about design thinking from one of the masters of the art – Tim Brown the CEO and President of IDEO. The article appears in the just published June 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review (p.85). The article relates the basic concepts of design thinking and why it can provide a better approach to developing human-centered solutions. In particular I like that Brown further elaborates on his explanation of the “three I’s” – Inspiration; Ideation; and Implementation (see the graphic in the article). I had previously heard Brown discuss this in a video presentation, but the graphic in the article provides a good visual representation of the process as it applies to problem finding, user studies, brainstorming, prototyping and solution development. And since those new to design thinking always ask for examples of how it is applied in real life situations, the article contains several case studies to illustrate the application of design thinking.

Even though I’ve been studying these ideas for over two years I continue to be amazed at the great articles and videos that help me to clarifying my thinking about DT and UX, and how these activities and approaches can be applied to the design of better libraries.