Tagline: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
My rating: 70/100
See Book Notes for other books I have read. If you like my notes, go buy it!
I’ll be honest, I didn’t get a whole lot out of this book. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been exposed to a lot of these ideas before, and partially because the content was often too high level to actually inform the detailed how of design. There was a lot of flag waving of post-hoc successes claimed to be the results of creative design thinking, but most seemed to me to be the results of regular hard work. If you don’t consider yourself a “creative”, this could be an eye-opener for you. That said, there was some useful content and here’s a couple good takeaways.
- Generate countless ideas and consider many divergent options.
- All ideas need fair consideration – lower rank members should not feel like they can’t share their ideas.
- Figuring out what other people actually need is what leads to the most significant innovations.
- Build a prototype of your idea right away with the most simple materials available. It will give you something to talk about, criticize, and move forward with useful feedback.
- Be truly empathic toward your customers to get revolutionary design insights.
Chapter 1 Flip: From Design Thinking to Creative Confidence
Design Thinking/Design-Driven Innovation
- Inspiration – Go out in the world (#lookandsee) … Interact with experts … role play customer scenarios. Empathy is our reliable, go-to resource.
- Synthesis – recognize patterns, identify themes, and find meaning in all that you’ve seen, gathered, and observed. For example, in retail environments, we’ve discovered that if you change the question from “how might we reduce customer waiting time?” to “how might we reduce perceived waiting time?” it opens up whole new avenues of possibility.
- Ideation and Experimentation – generate countless ideas and consider many divergent options. The key is to be quick and dirty – exploring a range of ideas without becoming too invested in only one. Based on feedback from end users and other stakeholders, we adapt, iterate, and pivot our way to human-centered, compelling, workable solutions.
Chapter 2: From Fear to Courage
Fear of failure is still the single biggest obstacle people face to creative success.
“urgent optimism”: the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, motivated by the belief that you have a reasonable hope of success.
We’ve found that if team members believe that every idea gets fair consideration, and that a meritocracy allows their proposals to be judged across divisional and hierarchical lines, they tend to put all of their energy and their creative talents to work on ideas and proposals for change.
Chapter 3 Spark: From Blank Page to Insight
#hardestthingfirst pg 70
Creativity seldom follows the path of least resistance. You need to deliberately choose creativity.
As Nobel laureate Linus Pauling famously said, “If you want a good idea, start with a lot of ideas.“
Ask yourself, what can you do to increase your “deal flow” of new ideas? When was the last time you took a class? Read some unusual magazines or blogs? Listened to new kinds of music? Traveled a different route to work? Had coffee with a friend or colleague who can teach you something new? Connected to “big idea” people via social media?
David places a whiteboard marker in his shower so he can write a passing idea on the glass wall before it slips away.
Figuring out what other people actually need is what leads to the most significant innovations.
Empathy means challenging your preconceived ideas and setting aside your sense of what you think is true in order to learn what actually is true.
#why pg 94
Interview techniques – One misconception about empathy is that it means going to your customers, asking them what they want, and then giving them exactly what they asked for. That strategy usually doesn’t work well. People often lack the self-awareness (or the vocabulary) to express their needs. And they seldom consider options that don’t yet exist in the world.
Asking questions of a diverse range of people will help you to elicit new responses. For example, try asking unexpected experts. If you make refrigerators, ask a repair shop which part needs to be fixed most frequently.
- Step back from obvious solutions. Instead of trying to invent a better mousetrap, for example, look at other ways to mouseproof your home. Maybe the mousetrap isn’t really the problem.
- Alter your focus or point of view. John F. Kennedy charged Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” encouraging us to rethink our rights and obligations. Changing your point of view often means shifting focus to a different stakeholder: to a parent instead of a child, or to a car buyer instead of the car dealer.
- Uncover the real issue. Decades ago, Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt observed. “People don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill. They want a quarter inch hole!” If you only asked questions about drills, you might miss out on the possibility of using lasers to create small precise holes like the ones in some laptop speaker grills.
- Look for ways to bypass resistance or mental blocks. If you try to get people to stop drinking the impure water from the local well in a developing country, you may find villagers responding, “My mother gave me water from this well: are you staying my mother was wrong?” If you want to break with the past, that kind of question has to be completely reframed. Instead, you can show how impure and dangerous their current well water is in contrast to how safe the purified water is. Then you can ask a completely different question to parents anywhere in the world: “Which water would you want your children to drink?” New question, very different answer.
- Think about the opposite. Working with the Community Action Project in Oklahoma, IDEO co-leads Jocelyn Wyatt and Patrice Martin were struggling with how to gain more involvement from inner-city parents in programs that would help their kids’ futures. Faced with participation rates of less than 20%, they were racking their brains trying to come up with solutions. But when they approached the challenge from the opposite direction and asked, “What are all the reasons we can’t get parents to participate?” (busy lives, transportation issues, child care, etc.), it got all the issues out on the table and pointed to possible solutions. For example, instead of emphasizing that the programs were free, organizers started communicating how valuable the programs were for parents and their children. Flipping the question around can be a useful tool for getting past preconceptions or routine ways of thinking so that you can see the situation in new ways.
Chapter 4 Leap: From Planning to Action
The next time you start to say “Wouldn’t it be great if …?” just take a moment and tell yourself, “Maybe I can finish it by the end of the day.”
Stop Planning and Start Acting
Many of us get stuck between wanting to act and taking action.
To achieve your goal, to topple the barriers that stand in your way, you have to be focused on getting it done now.
#easiestthingfirst pg 128
Experiment to Learn. What’s the best way to make progress toward your goal? In our experience, it’s to build a prototype, an early working model that has become a key tool of design thinkers. If you show up at a meeting with an interesting prototype while others bring only a laptop or a yellow pad, don’t be surprised if the whole meeting is centered on your ideas.
Chapter 5 Seek: From Duty to Passion
Chapter 6 Team: Creatively Confident Groups
Design for Delight (D4D) means “evoking positive emotion by going beyond customer expectations in delivering ease and benefit so people buy more and tell others about the experience.” Among the principles are: 1) deep customer empathy; 2) going broad to go narrow (i.e., seeking many ideas before converging on a solution); 3) rapid experiments with customers.
Chapter 7 Move: Creative Confidence to Go
David has a whiteboard marker in his shower.
Thirty Circles – do it on your own or in a group. The goal is to push people to test their creativity by turning circles into recognizable objects in a very short period of time. Time: 3 minutes. Supplies: pen a paper with 30 circles of the same size. Turn the circles into as many recognizable objects as possible. Compare results. Look for the quantity or fluency of ideas. Ask how many people filled in ten, fifteen, twenty, or more circles? (Typically people don’t finish.) Next, look for diversity or flexibility in ideas. See if the ideas are derivative (a basketball, baseball, volleyball) or distinct (a planet, a cookie, a happy face). Did anyone “break the rules” and combine circles (a snowman)? Were the rules explicit, or just assumed?
I added the following to my customer feedback form:
I like/I wish statements. “I like that you have incorporated five different ways for customers to view their current financial status.” … “I wish we could make the website easier for first time users to navigate” or “I wish we could help people examine their financial situation from the long-term perspective of years, not the short term perspective of months.”
One way to develop more empathy with – and gain new insights about – your customers is to look beyond the narrow definition of your offering and consider the customer’s total experience. Think about the entire arc of customer experience.
Tool: Customer Journey Map. Time: 1-4 hours. Supplies: Whiteboard, post-its.
- Choose a process or journey that you want to map.
- Write down the steps. Make sure to include even small steps that may seem trivial. The goal is to get you to consider the nuances of the experience that you may normally overlook.
- Organize the steps into a map. Usually we display the steps sequentially in a timeline. Your map may include branches to show alternative paths in the customer journey. You could also use a series of pictures or whatever method fits your data.
- Look for insights. What patterns emerge? Anything surprising or strange? Question why certain steps occur, the order they occur in, and so forth. Ask yourself how you might innovate each step.
- If possible, show the map to people familiar with the journey and ask them what you’ve overlooked or gotten out of sequence.
We’ve discovered that patients are calmer if you spell out the journey ahead. We sometimes call that “journifying” the journey.
Chapter 8 Next: Embrace Creative Confidence
IDEO’s Human Centered Design Toolkit: https://www.ideo.com/post/design-kit
Tim Brown writes, “Think of today as a prototype. What would you change?”