!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Training in the Practice of Design Thinking

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Training in the Practice of Design Thinking

In an earlier post, I noted what Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, had to say in the June issue of the Harvard Business Review about using design thinking to boost innovation. Brown defines design thinking as "a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity."

The missing element in Brown's article was a description of how to teach design thinking, in particular how to teach it to nondesigners in the business world. You can fill that gap by having a look at an article posted yesterday at businessweek.com by Jeneanne Rae, co-founder and president of Peer Insight, a consulting firm.

Rae describes the Design Thinking Initiative Proctor & Gamble has been rolling out worldwide during the past year. Design workshops are a central element of the rollout, and it is the nature of these workshops that I find of particular interest.

Each workshop focuses on a real P&G issue. Rae mentions new product intiiatives, strategy, retail relationship building, and improving operations.

The workshops went through their own prototyping process. Rae explains:
The first prototype workshop with the hair-care business in London in November 2005 yielded mixed results. "Somehow it didn't quite deliver — people didn't take action; the lessons didn't have staying power," said [Cindy] Tripp [marketing director at P&G Global Design]. The workshop agenda was redesigned with more emphasis on business. "There was too much academic stuff — philosophy and theory of design. We got rid of all the theory and settled on a completely experiential approach. ... Our business people wanted to get on with it. ... From then on we were very selective to find worthy problems and assemble the right types of stimuli to get to the crux of the matter."

The resulting design thinking workshop structure became more of a fast-paced immersive experience that ends with a serious reflection point about what's different using this methodology. Says Tripp: "Most of our workshop reflections suggest that the power of doing design thinking rather than just reacting to design thinking shifted many standoffish leaders into real partners for design. Once they get it, they can't get enough of it."
Tripp believes that the success of the workshops as currently structured comes from stimulating people to apply both creative, empathetic thinking and analytical thinking to whatever issue they're tackling in a particular workshop.


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