Innovation by Design: A book review by Bob Morris

Innovation by Design: How Any Organization Can Leverage Design Thinking to Produce Change, Drive New Ideas, and Deliver Meaningful Solutions
Thomas Lockwood and Edgar Papke
Career Press (November 2018)

How and why purpose-driven, design thinking organizations and enterprises use innovation to thrive

Thomas Lockwood and Edgar Papke selected an excellent headnote for their first chapter:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein

Lockwood and Papke suggest that design thinking is a source of innovative thinking, execution, and performance. The process is driven by curiosity and thrives within a workplace culture that has these ten attributes:

1. Attraction/appeal of design thinking to prospective participants
2. Emotional momentum of active participation
3. Identification and solution of the right problems
4. Awareness of its importance to the workplace culture
5. Embracing of ambiguity and uncertainty
6. Collaboration that nourishes co-creation
7. Openness in terns of attitude, approach, and environment
8. Effective communication between/among those involved
9. Leadership in alignment with cultural values
10. Dual focus: external on customers and internal on culture

These defining characteristics vary in nature and extent but, as Lockwood and Papke explain, organizations within which design thinking thrives tend to evolve through Richard Buchanan’s “Four Orders of Design”: First, they focus on “graphic design and visual communication, including signs, symbols, and print”; Next, they focus on “design of product, including their form and feel”; then their attention turns to “the design of the client or customer experience and application in the design of services, user experiences and interfaces, and information”; finally, in the Fourth Order, “attention shifts to the design of systems in which people interact with one another, including businesses, organizations, education, and government.”

These are among Thomas Lockwood and Edgar Papke’s concluding observations: “The true power of design thinking “is that it engages the collective imagination and offers the ability to explore the underlying motivation that leads to human innovation; and that products, services, and systems can be intentionally designed to offer the insight necessary to allow their users to gain the awareness; and that we can actually design desired cultures of innovation. But when it comes to human awareness, there is never a final state. As the result of increasing awareness, human kind will always be evolving, always innovating, always searching for new meaning.”

Artificial intelligence can record and assist that process of recognition, creation, reflection, and (when appropriate) revision but it can never replace the humans with whom it is associated. The ultimate power of design thinking, therefore, is the result of a collaboration between people and machines.

“More than any of the other organizational processes that have come before it, design thinking offers the greatest opportunity to confront and innovate in response to the greatest challenges of humankind.” Just about everything business leaders need to know about how to design or revise and strengthen that process is provided in this book.



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