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What's All The Fuss Around Design Thinking?

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Design Thinking and Creativity and Innovation are intrinsically
linked. Successful innovations rely on human-centric design. They are all about
identifying a consumer or client gap and filling a need, and often about
connecting (think Uber, Airbnb and Google).
Idris Mootee defined Design Thinking in his book, Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation
as:
'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.
At the heart of Design Thinking is empathy. We often assume we are
acting empathically and from the clients' perspective when often the reality is
so different.
Take the case of an MRI machine developed by Doug Dietz. The
machine was credited with increasing the survival rates of children with cancer
as it increased early detection and therefore treatment. Doug felt chuffed.
Until he observed the fear in a young girl's face and the distress of her
parents as she approached the machine. Doug then learned that 80% of pediatric
patients had to be anaesthetised to have a scan.
That was the moment that Doug empathised with his 'clients' and
saw the experience through the eyes of the child.
There was no way Doug could redesign the $250K machine. So, after
observing children playing, he redesigned the experience. The Adventure Series
was born and the first prototype, the MRI disguised as a pirate ship was
born.  The machine was complete with captains
wheel, plank and an operator who was in character, warning the children that
they would walk the plank if they move and offering them a piece of treasure
when they finish. Human-centred innovation!
Design Thinking asks that you Think Big. At the same time it is a
balance between: people and deeply understanding human needs; economic
viability and sustainability in business; and technical feasibility and what we
can do to make innovation possible.
In business, schools and organisations, convergent thinking is the
norm. We investigate the choices available and make an educated decision on the
way forward. Design Thinking is about divergent thinking, where we imagine and
create that which has not previously existed. 
The more diverse the brains in the room, the better the build and
layering of ideas that contribute to discovering solutions to customer centred
problems. If you want to discover solutions, have an architect, a musician, a
scientist, a nurse and an engineer on your team. There is experience and
imagination in diversity.
Design Thinking demands rapid
prototyping and a fail fast and pivot approach. For the process to work, agility is
required and the ability to adopt an
idea from another industry/product/service and adapt it to your own.
This quote by Tom Kelly, co-founder of IDEO, sums up the approach
to Design Thinking that embodies the advancements in technology and
acknowledges the importance of human-centricity:
Our best work comes as we blend technology with humanity'what will humans need?

As long as we stay human-centred and
operate from empathy, the sweet spot between people, business and technical will
create a multitude of opportunities for innovation.  

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