Change by Design: A Review

I’ve read a number of books on design over the past few months and this is the pick of the bunch.  Tim Brown is from Oxford and heads up IDEO, the world’s premier design consultancy.  It’s very well written and he lays out the fundamentals of his company’s approach to Design Thinking in a lucid fashion, weaving them around a number of intereting case studies. Of particular interest is the work done with Shimano, a Japanese bicycle component manufacturer,along with numerous healthcare and social initiatives.

One of the core themes is the transition from the desire for functional products to a need for a more emotionally satisfying service experience. I’m not going to describe everything involved apart from the fact that it’s a human- centric approach that places a premium on identifying latent /unmet needs through observation of extreme users on the edges (very important), quick and dirty prototyping, experimentation, story telling, and is very very messy.  There is no “one way” of doing things – “there’s no silver bullet for innovation..think of it more as “silver buckshot” –  and it’s refreshing that he doesn’t peddle any dogma whatsoever.

For those who love their matrices and frameworks Brown introduces a number such as the Three Spaces of Innovation, i.e. Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation, along with the Ways to Grow matrix.  Watch out for the number of consultants who foist these, or variants of them, on their clients in the coming year.  In fact I reckon consultancies will be buying this in bulk and handing it out left, right, and centre to their employees and clients.

Is Brown handing out trade secrets?  Not at all.  Anyone who has worked in consulting or any kind of creative business will have come across most or all of these concepts  and knows that creativity is a process that has to be lived through.  It’s a bit like asking Lemmy for tips on how to be a Rock n’ Roll animal, mind you I don’t think many could follow those guidelines and survive.

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