|Courtesy of IDEO|
Last week, David Kelley, IDEO's general manager, gave a talk with Design West Michigan at Steelcase headquarters. The talk was about design thinking. It seems like the term has been thrown around with increasing frequency, as people look to increase the competitive edge in their businesses, but at IDEO, it's the core of the company.
In Kelley's view, the first pillar of design thinking is empathy. It's about understanding what the customer needs, and not assuming that you know what the customer needs. That's good advice, but fairly generic. It seems like anyone who makes things is going to tell people that they have to understand the needs that they're trying to fill. It seems like the uncommon part of his advice is the fact that he refers to this as empathy, not as market research or another business term.
The second pillar is treating life as an experiment. The way he explained it, this principle is about viewing failures as experiments that didn't turn out the way you wanted. It's about not being discouraged easily. I feel like this could be expressed in a more effective way than it was. Treating life as an experiment is an ambiguous idea and means very little without further explanation.
The third pillar was the one that surprised me the most; leverage the power of storytelling. I appreciate storytelling, but I have rarely linked that to design. People have a very small ability to remember However, when you give something the context of a story, it becomes far easier for people to remember it. Kelley's guidelines for telling stories were as follows: Simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and in the form of a story. When I think of how he told a story about working with Bank of America, I notice that he followed essentially these guidelines. Clever, right?
From what I can see, it seems like IDEO has the kind of philosophy that I admire and would love to work with.
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