3 Ways to Apply Design Thinking in 2016


The year 2015 revealed just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how a range of businesses can draw inspiration from design thinking. A year ago, I posted an article about how the principles of design thinking can inform the way you lead. And in September 2015 the Harvard Business Review dedicated the entire issue to design thinking. Now I’d like to share three diverse examples of design thinking in action that can instigate your business with a human centered approach in 2016. My favorites:

1. Massive Change: Bruce Mau is a designer extraordinaire. While he started out as a graphic designer, he has been invited to design objects, brands (he managed to shift the paradigm for Coca-Cola) and places (for example Mecca- yes, Mecca). His latest project, 24 Hours To Massive Change is his distillation of the principles that guide his work- and now we can all access these guidelines. They include mantras such as “Compete With Beauty” and “Design The Invisible”. What most inspired me when he spoke at Philadelphia’s Art & Business Council event in December 2015 was the notion of enterprise design. I love that approach because it is holistic and systemic- not siloed or fragmented.
2. XQ -The Super School Project: This initiative captures the pure essence of all that we have to learn from young people. The XQ Super School challenge was funded primarily by Laurene Powell Jobs and its purpose is to reimagine high school. Let’s face it- high schools are operating on a business model for an economy that was a reality 100 years ago. My favorite parts of the XQ website by far are the video capsules posted by teenagers positing their big “What If’s” about public school education. For example, “What if teachers were co-learners…?” and “What if schools had online systems so that parents could see data about their kids…?”. XQ Super School is using the design thinking process: divergent and convergent thinking, a hyper focus on the people who use the services/products, applying qualitative research and prototyping. Winning proposals will receive funding over the next 5 years to execute on their concept. This open-source initiative has the potential to change the way we design education in America. Ultimately, XQ’s process and final products services the grand field of entrepreneurship.

3. The Well Living Lab: I first learned of the Well Living Lab when I gave a talk at the Mayo Clinic’s Transform conference in October 2015. The Well Living Lab is taking triple bottom line sustainability to new and inspired heights. Materials, lighting, scent- in fact all sensorial cues are factored into exploring designing environments and buildings that can make us well- and keep us that way. Here’s another What if: “What if you could lose weight by changing your office furniture?” Cool idea. The economic implications of Well Living Lab are immense. Consider down the line cost decreases in a currently faltering health care system; the increase in worker productivity; and the beautification of our cities, leading to greater investment.

Design thinking’s value is that it gives us permission to rethink the process we use to deliver value- instead of only focusing on the end result. The means does indeed justify the end.
Source: 3 Ways to Apply Design Thinking in 2016 | Inc.com


Director of the Strategic Design MBA at Philadelphia University and Principal of Figure 8 Thinking, LLC