Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: November 26th, 2013 by bobmorris

D ThinkingDesign Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School
Idris Mootee
John Wiley & Sons (2013)

How cutting-edge design thinking can help business leaders respond to challenges that transcend specialized disciplines,

First of all, I think this is among the most brilliantly designed books I have read in recent years in terms of its organizational structure and production values as well as the quality of its illustrations. The content is rock-solid and the aesthetics of its presentation are world-class. I offer my heartiest congratulations to Idris Mootee and his colleagues, with special credit to Sarah Chung as well as to STUDIO O+A for the use of several photographs and to the creative and editorial talents at John S. Wiley & Sons.

* * *

According to Mootee, “For most practitioners, the idea of design as a way of thinking can be traced back to Herbert Simon and his 1969 book, The Sciences of the Artificial [and] his distinction between critical thinking as an analytic process of ‘breaking down’ ideas and a design-centric mode of thinking as a process of ‘building up’ ideas as foundational to the practice. So, too, is his definition of design as ‘the transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones.’…Design thinking is the search for a magical balance between business and art, structure and chaos, intuition and logic, concept and execution, playfulness and formality, and control and empowerment.”

I commend Mootee on his skillful use of various reader-friendly devices such as “Thinking Points” sections that are inserted strategically throughout the narrative, as are dozens of CAPPED boldface observations, including relevant quotations from various sources such as Alain de Botton, Peter F. Drucker, Buckminster Fuller, Mahatma Gandhi, Roger Martin, Lily Tomlin, Alvin Toffler, F.M. Young, and Gang Yu. He also makes effective use of checklists when recommending a sequence of action steps of highlighting cluster points. These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Mootee’s coverage.

o The Butterfly Effect and Long-Range Planning
o Changing Management Paradigms: 20th Century > 21st Century
o The 10 Design Thinking Principles That Redefine Business Management
o Linking Design Thinking Solutions to Business Challenges
o Storytelling Essentials
o Strategic Foresight
o Igor Ansoff’s concept of “Weak Signals” that have potentially great significance
o Components of Organizational Change
o Value Redefinition
o The Four Key Dimensions of Experience Design (i.e. scope, intensity, triggers, and customer engagement)
o Rapid Prototyping: Benefits in Business Design
o Two Value Chains: Industrial Age > Hyperconnected Age
o Business Model Design Framework
o Applied Design Thinking for Business Model Design: 21 Exercises

I agree with Idris Mootee that rethinking traditional academic boundaries and traditional functional boundaries in large companies is an important, albeit challenging and sometimes daunting mission. “We know where we need to go. The challenges are monumental. But the transformations are critical. Now is the time to begin bridging the gaps between education and employment, between design and business, and between any of the remaining us and them that keeps us all from working together to unleash our imagination for a better future.” Those who are now planning such a “mission” or have only recently embarked upon will find the information, insights, and counsel in this book to be of incalculable value.

Those who share my high regard for it would be well-advised to check out three others: Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine, co-edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen; David Burkus’ The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas; and Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, co-authored by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft.

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