At the annual Fuse15 Conference (#Fuse15) hosted by the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, I had the privilege of serving as a coach to a fantastic group of educators and also presenting a MoVe Talk (Moment of Visible Empathy) for an audience of 110 educators and representatives from several Atlanta area non-profit organizations. I shared my team’s experiences with design thinking over the past two years as part of the Atlanta K12 Design Thinking Challenge (#AK12DC) in partnership with the Dobbs Foundation and Stanford’s d.School. AK12DC is a unique community of public and private schools partnering to bring more design thinking to schools across Atlanta. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in all of these opportunities and honored to share them with the inspiring people I work with each day.
Titled “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Design Thinking,” the talk focused on the successes and ‘fail up’ moments of our journey ‘to foster a more nurturing, learner-centered environment that inspires a culture of natural collaboration and flexibility to move.’
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Design Thinking is an approach to human-centered problem-solving created at Stanford over 10 years ago, used by major corporations such as First Data as a framework for innovation and forward-thinking schools such as Mount Vernon as an authentic, instructional strategy. You can read much more about design thinking…Standford’s d.School, Design Thinking Ideo, and Deep Design Thinking.
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Design Thinking
- Be mindful of the whole ecosystem – You may solve one user’s problem only to create new problems for other users. Don’t become so singularly focused on your user that you forget the context in which their challenges exist.
- Carry your best ideas to completion – Making an impact may require more than launched prototypes as the end result. I’ve written hundreds of unfinished songs – you’ve never heard them. What are your unfinished ideas?
- Deviate from the recipe – What you seek is more elusive than a linear, step-by-step process, leading to stagnant and diluted creativity. A framework is important and useful. Creativity loves constraints, but don’t feel like you have to follow every step, every time, in the same sequence.
- Don’t neglect vision – Balance opportunities based on user insights (needs for now) with leader’s foresight (anticipate the future). I wish the ‘designers’ of Atlanta’s roadways had planned for 50 years beyond their time. It’s too late to redesign now. Read The Myth of China’s Ghost Cities. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18