Few companies put design thinking at or even near the top of corporate agendas, even though an overall organizational design implementation can provide incredible benefits. Some examples of companies that are doing it right—and raking in the rewards.
Though some have said we've moved past design thinking, its most exciting extensions move beyond the concept in its most narrow sense. Many wouldn't even be projects you'd expect from the IDEOs and Jump Associates of the world.
Somewhere in between the work we're paid to do and the work we want to do lies what Riley Gibson calls a "creative surplus." People have a need to explore, make, photograph, draw, and collaborate on ideas that are important to them, including the products and services they're passionate about. The key for a brand, he says, is to give those people better direction to end up with insight they can actually use. His startup Napkin Labs is a customizable crowdsourcing platform that takes conventional collaboration one step further.
As cinema goes, watching designers talk about their work is boring enough. But watching designers talk about how they think? Suffice it to say, it’s no Die Hard. Nevertheless, a handful of filmmakers wants to mount a documentary on precisely that — design thinking — and they hope to raise $15,000 through Kickstarter to support their work.
Before we announce the death of Design Thinking, we ought to at least agree on what it meant — or rather, what it means, since, although maligned, the practice is alive and well and continues to help churn out innovative solutions to intractable problems for the few organizations that get it right.
Rumors of the failure of design thinking appear to have been somewhat overblown. At the recent Design Research conference in Seattle, the consensus reportedly held that whether or not you like the term, design thinking is here to stay. At a recent panel discussion in New York, "Design Thinking: Dead or Alive?" it was hard to find any of the speakers (of which I was one) quibbling with more than the fact that it wasn’t a very interesting question.
Ebay's scrappy startup days are years behind it, and like any other billion-dollar company it faces distinct challenges that stem from being ginormous: How can it launch new products that don't get nibbled into oblivion by bureaucracy? How can it make sure the best ideas emerge, when all its managers have slightly different visions? How can you do all that nimbly enough to stay ahead?