Tim Brown is the CEO of IDEO, the global design and innovation company behind projects such as the first Apple mouse and the first notebook style computer. The team of around 800 people are located around the world and they come from a wide variety of backgrounds–everything from chefs, practicing physicians, software engineers, to filmmakers and everything in between. But they all have one thing in common, a methodology of design.
Tim is also the author of the book, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. What does design thinking actually mean? Tim says, “The big difference between thinking and design thinking is the doing bit, which doesn’t crop up in the term design thinking…When you start the creative process you do not know what the answer is. Most people when they’re presented with the problem of solve a problem but they have no idea what the answer is, they’re sort of, they don’t know what to do with it. It’s like the proverbial blank sheet of paper. And so what design thinking is, is a set of processes and methods for getting you to an answer.”
Tim and his team at IDEO take a design based approach to everything from education to IT work to leadership. They have three cycles that employees go through over their time with the company, those cycles are learning, practicing, and mastering. They have found that to “really master something, you should teach it”.
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What is it like to work at IDEO? Tim says the biggest difference between IDEO and other organizations is that “we spend almost all of our time creating new things. Whereas in most organizations only some people spend some of their time doing it.”
Employees at IDEO work mostly in teams rather than individually, they believe in group creativity rather than individual creativity. They have a very diverse team with people coming from all sorts of educational and career backgrounds with a wide variety of skills. And their company’s cultural values are very important and include things like “help others be successful, not just focused on your own success”. They see this value played out on a daily basis.
When asked for advice on how individual employees can start bringing in design thinking to their organizations Tim suggests they first observe the organization and keep a record of what they notice. This is true especially newer employees, they will observe different things than an employee who has been in the organization for years would. Always keep a notebook or sketchbook with thoughts, ideas, questions, observations, etc…And then when you get a chance speak up about what you notice and things you see that could be improved upon.
For leaders looking to implement design thinking, Tim says, “it takes bravery from leaders to realize that actually, there are problems to be solved, opportunities to be grabbed, and that if we put resources and teams against it, there’s a payoff.” Be brave and understand that you won’t always have the answers and that’s okay.
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
●What Design Thinking actually means and how to apply it to work
●What it’s like to work at IDEO
●What is one of the great diseases of the modern organization according to Tim
●Examples of companies who are good at thinking creatively
●How Tim deals with failure
Links From The Episode: