As part of the d.school fellowship program, we bring in experienced designers to provide feedback on issues we’re grappling with in our work. Two weeks ago we were lucky to be joined by David Kelley, founder of both the d.school and IDEO.
I asked him about the challenge underlying my recent blog post “What Problems Are Design Thinking Useful For?” How to rapidly increase sophistication of one’s design capabilities across two dimensions: building a robust design toolkit and integrating design with other approaches?
While I’ve been learning a lot about using my economics training and management consulting skills alongside the design process, I’ve been frustrated with my limited design toolkit. I know there are many methods for empathy, synthesis, etc. that I haven't been exposed to. If the Governance Collaboratory is about teaching local innovators design thinking to apply it to their work, I’d need to understand how to better support others in acquiring these skills as rapidly as possible.
I drew a graph with design sophistication on the y-axis and integration with other methods on the x-axis, identifying where Jeremy and I have moved from nine months ago to now. “How to get up and to the right?,” I asked.
David’s answer? “Mileage.” Ok, yes. I get that. Over a dozen design cycles in the past few months has taught me a tremendous amount about integrating design with traditional social science approaches, yet I feel stunted in my acquisition of a toolkit.
“But,” I pushed back, “I just don’t know what tools are out there, someone has to teach them to me. Should I look to coaches? Or read books? Are there case studies?”
“Just make them up!” David answered. “We just made up the empathy map at IDEO a few years ago. You’re out in new territory. Figure out what works best for the problems you care about.”
What might seem like a frustrating answer has turned out to be quite liberating, but only when coupled with the mindset shift that design thinking affords. Making it up makes perfect sense, because a designer's mindset gives you the creative confidence to experiment and quickly learn what works. So, off into uncharted territory I go...
Posted by Jenny Stefanotti. Posted In : Design Thinking