The book is built around ten cases studies showing the power of design thinking to solve problems in a broad array of contexts. Each of the cases highlights a new use of design thinking. The cases are meant to give managers who contemplate introducing design thinking into their organizations ten arguments for the efficacy of design approach. Each case study ends with a handful of points and ideas about hat made the particular case a success, providing a neat and clear set of concepts to think about.
Design thinking is characterized by four questions: what is, what if, what wows and what works? The starting point is analysis of the situation or the problem. Knowing what is actually going on is crucial in being able to address the real problem rather than reacting to the apparent problem. Situational analysis helps to identify not just true problems but also opportunities as well as needs. Knowing the needs is essential in being able to pose the correct solution criteria. The second step is divergent thinking stage, which invites us to imagine possible solutions to the correctly identified problem. Third, we identify those possibilities that will wow our stakeholders. The final stage involves field-testing a prototype. In addition, ten additional concepts are discussed: visualization, journey mapping, value chain analysis, mind mapping, brainstorming, concept development, assumption testing, rapid prototyping, customer co-creation and learning launch.
Design’s contribution to problem solving in all the cases involves reframing, which helps those facing a problem ask better, deeper questions, leading to understanding; collaboration—problems are solved together by different people working together; curation or the seperation of the key issues from the noise; and a sense of possibility—design thinking encourages discovery.
IBM’s problem was differentiating IBM character and brand experience at trade shows. One of the key elements of success in this case study was the ability of the team to look at the broader issues rather than simply work within to box of trade shows. Here, making a better trade show experience did not involve working with ideas that already populated this space but asking broader questions about human learning and engagement. Designers learned about human learning and interaction in general, which lead them to insights which informed design criteria and allowed for the developed a new way of engaging clients at shows. Rather than conceive of the trade show as a lecture or demonstration, designers here evolved the idea of communication and engagement spaces. Focus on engagement lead IBM to consider experts as concierge who brings the client into the engagement space and directs her to other experts. The broader lesson here applies to political campaigning: as in trade shows, the goal of engaging the potential voter is similar.
The Suncorp case study highlights the power of metaphor. How do you get two different organizations to work seamlessly together after a merger? Designers asked the participants to imagine what kind of a house they wished to build together. Trouble emerged when the concept of a city that would represent the new commercial insurance company was shown to the broader company audience. Metaphor worked because stakeholders were involved in creating it. To engage the broader company, designers decided to have each of the ten units in the company design their own neighborhood in the city. Another interesting use of metaphor involved that of a lifeguard as a new frame for the CFO’s office—rather than enforcers, executives would be seen as lifesavers, ready to provide support in moments of trouble. The broader application of this case study is any new relationship—asking the other person to imagine what kind of city or house you would want to build together is a clever way to focus on creating a positive framework for a new relationship and reframe the participants as co-creators, sharing the responsibility for success.
One thing becomes clear as one studies these cases—design thinking, while not very rigorous or analytical, has one key advantage—it helps you think in new way, if you only let it. And reframing of a problem situation often leads to priceless outcomes.