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June 04, 2010


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Graham Douglas


I would not include Integrative Thinking along with the others you and Vanessa mention. Integrative Thinking is creative but also integrates strategies, tactics, action and review and evaluation in a continuum.

Andrew Webster

I would submit that any of these modes of thinking require appropriate loops. Done well, none are linear. The distinction between integrative thinking and design thinking might be that integrative thinking is the what (what new option/model will I create or synthesize) and design thinking is the how (how will I create that model?).

The steps laid out above are helpful. There is a lot beneath a few words, though. For example, to "set aside emotion and ownership" is not easily done. It's powerful to see when it does happen.


Kathleen Schaub

Thanks for this insightful post and the links to design thinking resources.

I couldn't agree more that communicating in today's world requires new thinking, as well as new skills. Media has radically shifted to become immediate, ubiquitous, and social (human / interactive / user-generated / sharable). So different than even a few years ago. All communicators - especially professional communicators - now grapple with this transition. Creative approaches are required.

Design thinking itself isn't the answer to social media expertise. However, it offers a way to get to the answer. It isn't a destination. It is a path. Design thinking offers a proven method for creative thinking. This is why I listed on my blog that Design Thinking is one of the Eight Skills for Tomorrow's Marketers.

In particular, I love the verb "ideate". This strange word formalizes the right-brain practice that must come before left-brain if innovation is to happen.

I first learned design thinking in college when I studied for my BFA in design (then I went back and got the analytical side with an MBA). We didn't call it design thinking then. It was just the way design was done. I've used it many, many, times as a marketer. This knowledge - combined with the ability to communicate with visual symbols (which I also learned in design school) is like speaking a foreign language that everyone understands but very few others can speak.

The one thing I would add to your list of steps is the iteration step that Agile methods have highlighted. You allude to this idea, but I think it bears calling out.

I applaud the work that you and the others you mention in your post are doing in this area and look forward to more of your ideas.

/Kathleen Schaub

Andrew Webster

I love the verb "ideate" as well, but think people wish to leap there too quickly (I know I am wired to do so). The brilliance of design thinking comes from the "Research" bit above. Though, sometimes talking to end users isn't enough. IDEO and others make a habit of observing them or otherwise getting beyond what they say.

Don Bulmer

Hi Andrew and Kathleen,

Thank you for reading and commenting on this post! Your points are very well stated and add great value.

Most important to me about the design thinking process is that it really does force a shift in perspective (if used properly) that can result in very elegant and innovative outcomes to seemingly tough problems. To me...this is priceless...particularly when quality time to think is so precious.

Thank you again for taking the time to contribute!


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