Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at www.thevertexfighter.blogspot.com.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

“Designing for Growth”

Feb. 16 “Designing for Growth”: I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter back in Sept. 7, 2011.  I cut this article because there was this istock photo of light bulbs being grown from plants like an idea growing.  The book is about design and creative thinking.  Here's the whole article:
 
By Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie
Columbia Business School
Publishing, 227 pages, $28.25)
 
One of the hot ideas in management circles these days is design thinking.
 
This is the notion that we need to move away from the analytical thinking methods we have learned in school, including business school, and apply the techniques of designers so that we can be more innovative, launching more growth from within our company - organic growth - rather than having to lurch for mergers and acquisitions.
 
It sounds attractive, but design thinking can seem mysterious, if not mushy, and certainly daunting.
 
"Design thinking can do for organic growth and innovation what TQM [total quality management] did for quality - take something we always have cared about and put tools and processes into the hands of managers to make it happen," Jeanne Liedtka, a professor at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and Tim Ogilvie, an innovation strategy consultant, write in Designing for Growth.
 
Not all designers are in favour, they note. Designers spend years learning their craft, and worry that managers can only learn enough to make them dangerous. But the authors argue that design thinking is different from design itself.
 
"Gifted designers combine an aesthetic sensibility with deep capabilities for visualization, ethnography, and pattern recognition that are well beyond the grasp of most of us - managers included.
 
But when it comes to fostering business growth, the talent that we are interested in is not rooted in either natural gifts or studio training - it lies with having a systematic approach to problem solving. That is, to us, design thinking, and it can be taught to managers," they write.
 
With that in mind, they distill design thinking down to four questions to ask when attacking a problem.
 
They begin with "What is?" In developing new ideas, we often rush to engage the future, but in fact we find clues to the future in dissatisfactions with the present. The second question - "What if?" - launches us into pursuing possibilities for change. The third question - "What wows?" - encourages us to winnow down the ideas generated into something that packs a wallop. The final question - "What works?" - requires us to test our ideas in the real world.
 
In each of those stages, we call upon certain tools that help with the task at hand:
 
Visualization
 
We use imagery to envision possibilities and bring them to life. That involves taking text, numbers, or data, and transforming them into sketches and other pictures.
 
"Visualization makes ideas tangible and concrete, often sweeping away ambiguity with the stroke of a pencil. It brings a different part of your brain into play; it's a different way of knowing," they write.
 
Journey mapping
 
The customer experience with your company is mapped in a flow chart or other graphic format. "If we could add only one design tool to a manager's repertoire, it would be journey mapping. The number one reason growth ideas fail is that we misjudge what customers want," the authors observe.
 
Value chain analysis
 
The equivalent mapping must now be done on the business side, studying the organization's interaction with its partners to produce, market, distribute and support its offering. This ensures you have the capability to handle the new ideas that come forth.
 
Mind mapping
 
You'll probably have generated a ton of data and now must look for patterns and insights, separating what is important from what is not.
 
Brainstorming
 
The "What if?" stage begins with generating ideas. The authors stress the importance of trigger questions that focus your thinking, and questioning assumptions.
 
Concept development
 
The best ideas developed are chosen and assembled into detailed solutions. Then they are evaluated according to the customer and business criteria previously developed.
 
Assumption testing 
 
The "What wows?" phase begins with identifying the assumptions required to be true for your new ideas to succeed. Then they are tested, since the authors note "when growth projects fail, it is always because reality turns out different than you thought it would be."
 
Rapid prototyping
 
Next, you create prototypes, visual or experiential manifestation of the concepts you have developed, so you can see and understand them better. The goal is to learn from this quick and simple representation.
 
Customer co-creation
 
The "What works?" stage begins by getting customers to participate in creating the solution that best meets their needs.
 
Learning launch
 
Finally, you create an affordable experiment that lets some customers experience the new solution over an extended period of time, allowing you to test your key assumptions with market data.
 
It's a more rigorous approach than the term "design thinking" might suggest, with room for free thinking but also a carefully crafted process that has its own analytical flavour. 
 
The book is rich with information on each tool, taking you through the elements clearly and crisply.
 
If design thinking intrigues you, this would be a good place to start.
 
POSTSCRIPT
 
Andrew Clancy, a senior editor at Soundview Executive Book Summaries, offers lessons from people such as Marshall Goldsmith, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Stephen Covey and David Allen in The Success Gurus (Portfolio, 278 pages, $31.00)
 
Consultant Beverly Behan, who has worked with more than 100 boards in Canada and the U.S., gives advice in Great Companies Deserve Great Boards (Palgrave, 175 pages, $40.00).
 
In Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (John Wiley, 312 pages, $59.95) governance expert Richard Steinberg helps you to get things in order so you can avoid corporate disaster.
 

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