This month's issue: The Design Thinking.
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #104

Big News


Just a quick thank you to all of our clients who kept us on the road during October, flying from coast to coast delivering our Once Upon a Time Project, Why We Love the Movies, and Repeatable Successful Acts, as well as launching new strategic initiatives using our ideas as the foundation for their goals. Our continued work in both curriculum development and delivery was the final piece of our October workload.

THANKS TO ALL! We love helping you make a difference!!!

IDEA

 

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED:

The Idea of Design Thinking



Sacred things can be created in any environment. 

-Christy Turlington


Somewhere, a designer is putting pen to a blank sheet of paper, and the dot created from the ink bleed will become something that never existed before. Maybe a new chair, or a car, maybe a backyard planter, a sales idea, or a CD cover. Before that simple act of creation and the application of a serious set of skills, the designer will have used a specific methodology, a way of attacking a project, a perspective to problem solving called "design thinking." It started as an idea, found form, and was something new. Designers have unique skill sets. They focus on aesthetics, feelings, visualization, and production. These are big time skill sets and not something you can just jump into without training, mentorship, and experience. But... you can THINK like them, and DESIGN THINKING can become a valuable tool in your business development toolbox. Being a designer and thinking like a designer are two different things. Design thinking is not the realm of only the creative or the heartland of engineering, but instead it's right there for everyone. It will only take a little leap of faith, a small shift in your way of seeing things. 



So, here is the big picture: if it was not made by nature, it was designed. Design thinking is about action, feelings, and a very unique way of seeing problems as opportunities and approaching attack points. It marries these elements in purposeful planning with forms, pictures, and words. It is a learnable way of thinking similar to the strategic, critical, intuitive, and creative schools of thought we teach in The Next Level Academy. 

In 1906 the copyright symbol appeared. The symbol worked on multiple levels. It was familiar in different languages. It was simple. It could be recognized in very small scale and has stood the test of time. Brilliant designer Chip Kidd (known for the cover design of over 1,000 books, including Jurassic Park), rates the copyright symbol as a triumph of design. My bet is that you never thought of it that way. That's DESIGN THINKING.

Tim Brown is the CEO of design powerhouse IDEO, and in his book Change by Design Brown gives this great example of design thinking in action. Japanese bicycle component maker Shimano asked for some help as the cycling market was struggling, and IDEO, using design thinking, started their project with this question: "Why do 90% of adult americans not ride bikes when 90% of them did as kids?" Using this as the foundation for viewing the problem, IDEO's crew applied design thinking. Here are a few of their attack points: 

 
  • Talk to People - This is a key aspect of design thinking, talking to people about the problem. It's not all about statistics, demographics, and pure data. At the end of the day the user of your product or service is a person. It's nice to know what people think. 
  • Get Out - They went to bike stores and asked questions and observed. They watched kids ride their bikes to school. They immersed themselves in the environment of the problem. 
  • See It - They looked at the information they accumulated, a lot of it ver subjective, and sketched out their observations, in essence creating a visual journey. They discovered: 
    • Non-cyclists were intimidated by the lycra-clad sales folks.
    • They were bewildered by the complexity of choice.
    • The cost was prohibitive for recreational use. 
    • The amount of maintenance was scary and all of the accessories being pushed added to the confusion. And...
    • Most shoppers already had a bike in their garage that had a flat or needed some work. 
All of this led to the development of the coasting style of bicycle... bikes that were simple and easy to use... bikes that allow you to cruise, to hang out, and to enjoy the scenery. It wasn't about going fast, it was just about going. 



Design thinking is about making connections, and every business needs to strengthen its connections. The best thing about a new way of looking at things, about trying to implement something different is that doors you didn't even know existed begin to open for you. Wouldn't you love some more opportunity? Just think a little differently and stand back!
 

 

Do This!

                                               
Human Focus: One of the unique aspects of design thinking is the starting point. In management, problems are attacked with traditional analytical approaches whereas design thinking uses observation tactics around how people actually are involved in the project. This means getting out of the office. Start your experiment into design thinking by adding a human element to your problem solving or opportunity searching endeavors. If you are looking at a service-based strategic goal, find out how customers are interacting with an existing service of the service of a competitor that is within the realm of your plan. This one step, adding human observations, is a great starting point for your adding elements of design thinking to your planning tools. 

MODELING - I've written about this before, but it is an essential ingredient in design thinking, the creation of a prototype. I know you are probably not building a new desk chair or pair of tennis shoes, but giving your idea concrete form is critical in design thinking. If something exists, it can be changed, modified, and improved upon. So get something into the physical plane. Create a draft of a document. Sketch a process on the whiteboard. Build something with simple materials. Make it physical. 

BEAT IT UP - Designers beat the daylights out of their ideas. They take them apart, change perspectives, and put them on the sideline while they look at different approaches. They constantly ask, why? In order to make this a practical step, you have to keep track of everything. When you trash an idea, don't throw it away. You many need to return to it. At Creative Ventures we use project journals to track every step in the life of the idea. We use "scratchy" (very rough sketches) as we give ideas form. We return to ideas we left behind and beef up the sketch, which allows us to re-think its value. We often add color just to give us a new view. Don't jump at the first good looking idea; there well may be a better path just around the idea bend. 


 


News


                               
ABRACADABRA:  One of the biggest forms of entertainment in China is magic. The Chinese love a good trick and they have some of the best magicians in the world. From sleight of hand to large stage illusions, magic is a big player. So to capture that love, the Chinese political machine is making a huge investment in the little known Changping province. They are building a magic city and plan on making it a huge tourist attraction with shows to rival Cirque du Soleil. High tech stages, arena seating, smaller intimate clubs, and cutting edge outdoor shows will all make their debut in 2018. After all, who doesn't love a great magic trick? 

                               

GOOD TO THE LAST PICTURE?: Creativity is often birthed from boredom. Albert Einstein, while a (bored) patent clerk would look out the window and daydream ideas that would change our understanding of the universe. Michael Breach might not change the universe, but he is another great example of boredom leading to creativity. As a weary barista in New York City, Breach found himself with only the huge espresso machine for company and began doodling with a bamboo skewer in the foam of his coffee. He was able to do some simple images, a heart, the sun, etc. It was the beginning of a strange level of celebrity as he slowly became an artist whose canvas is the foam of your latte. His great works last only a brief amount of time. These images appear, they create a smile, and then disappear in a simple sip. Wow!
 
      

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE:  In June, Google selected Ivy Ross to lead its GLASS product line, the innovative eyeglass computer that puts the internet right in front of your peepers. She was an unusual choice for such an important position. At 58 years of age she was not a young techie. Her background married art and marketing, no engineering. But Google is great at connecting the dots. Sergey Brin and Google X (their innovation lab) head honcho Astro Teller made a list of the attributes they were looking for and Ivy fit the bill. She has run marketing campaigns, solved consumer problems, and even designed eyeglass frames for awhile. In an unorthodox move, Google found the exact fit for their controversial and innovative piece of eye candy technology!
 
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