Clark Kellogg on Design Thinking


see kgs beat China is only not-for-profit Independent Business School the alternative to a linear thinking process that is taught in analytic business systems is one in which we’re using simultaneous thinking more broadly based thinking generating many more alternative solutions for evaluation and doing so without all of the rigid linear thinking processes now design thinking is no better nor worse than any other kind of problem-solving framework it’s just a different one a new one a new tool set why has Design Thinking become popular now it is because the nature of problems that companies and societies are facing has become so complex that the prior ways of looking at issues and problems has has become outstripped by the complexity of current issues and problems and so we can’t tackle things like global warming clean air fresh water economic interoperability data avalanches with the way we’ve been solving problems in the past we call these hairball problems or wicked problems they are so complicated they’re so filled with ambiguity there are so many indeterminate elements of the equation that we need to look at them from a different perspective there’s an old saying if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail and so it is with these airball complex problems too often faced with them we reduce the problem to something at a smaller scale with less complexity something we can get our arms around and then easily solve of course we’re then solving the wrong problem and typically whether it’s a company an individual or a government we are solving at too low of an altitude and so we are creating a solution oftentimes with unintended consequences that solves a short-term problem that it doesn’t address the underlying larger scale issues in the u.s. we have gasoline mileage standards for for the automobile makers so on average your fleet of cars must have thirty four point five miles per gallon gasoline consumption every time that number is raised of course all the automobile makers say it’s impossible to do and then go and do it and so we’re incremental II solving an issue of gasoline consumption the reframe on this is even if we get to 80 miles per gallon of gasoline mileage we’re still using gasoline so the reframe in this case is not so much how can we get more mileage per gallon of gasoline of petroleum the real question is how can we get people from point A to point B with the lowest possible use of energy which does not include petroleum that question has the potential to remove cars altogether from the equation it has the potential to ask a fundamentally different question which is how do people get from a point A to a point B and a subset question is do they need to get from point A to point P and a subset question from that would be how might we get them to do what they need to do without going from point A to point B and so it goes you can see how this sequence of thinking might take us to a very different question it’s far beyond that short-term issue of how can we squeeze more miles out of a gallon of petroleum because no matter how many miles we get we’re still warming the earth when I was asked to build innovation capability inside a financial services company a fortune 500 the only way we survived for the as long as we did was we had the direct support of the CEO at every stage of our development because in building an innovation capability inside a company that doesn’t have one you are up against tissue rejection resentment around your budget no clear major ability in the traditional methodologies of success and a great demand to get stuff done fast that is by far and away better than anything going on it’s sort of like a rookie baseball player coming up into the big leagues and being required to hit a home run his first time at bat nevertheless those are the kinds of forces that the do come into play when a company is trying to do that why is this because humans don’t like to change and so we have lots of conflict in companies and they try to do this work so the ingredients tend to be unflappable leadership at the top and support adequate budget to make a difference an extended time frame that doesn’t require bottom line results every every 90 days and then a broad cultural change that does go into the areas of HR of operations of Finance of marketing if humans weren’t so change resistant this would be really easy but we are a change resistant species in China for example there is a lower tolerance for risk and certainly for what we would call failure and it is beginning to dissolve but it’s by no means over and this is going to be a challenge as China develops its capabilities in this area we talk a lot about the difference between made in China and created in China unfortunately and I don’t mean this as a blanket statement but unfortunately with respect to innovation the Chinese economy and Chinese companies have prospered so much with copycat work that it’s it’s hard to think why shouldn’t we continue with that process but as the economy develops and matures and becomes much more of a global player that phenomenon will simply drive profitability down because it will commoditize everything and then if you’re only competing on the basis of price or distribution you have nowhere to go but faster distribution at lower at lower profitability that’s not how an economy wants to grow and so the lessons of innovation and of customer insight and meeting unmet customer needs may be a hard lesson to learn but it is actually the process by which companies can grow and prosper and move their bottom line up not the bottom line down through the commoditization is a difficult cultural phenomenon and because countries in Europe and in Asia are structured in a more hierarchical authoritarian way it does make it more difficult to easily go through this process and not have all the cultural overlays of judgment on it I’m part of an organization called spark International Design Awards and we’ve been coming to China for seven years to promote design design thinking and product development over that relatively short time we’ve seen a change in the quality of work that’s going on here there is a migration from I should say an overlay upon the strong technical basis of design education to now learn more about experience design and about customer you customer needs and it’s starting to reflect itself in the outcome of designed products that are coming out of Asia now I would say that Korea and Japan are further along that curve than China is of course when China wakes up about any issue it moves at very fast pace to establish itself and I do think that that is where what we’re beginning to see now is a real traction around design thinking and innovation works here you

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