A big challenge is getting to the essence of an issue and figuring out just what to reframe. People are great at adapting and subsuming their needs, they can’t always express their desires, and designers must read between the lines. Synthesis is taking parts—ones that may seem insignificant when looked at individually—and connecting them in a way that gives insight, that changes your thinking from when you first looked at the challenge, and importantly, gives your team something they can move on. As I coach, “it’s easier to balance a bike when you’re moving.”
In this course, we taught participants how to create frameworks so they could better understand a challenge at hand and highlight where to focus their efforts. We started with a rich prompt: “Go and talk to a woman in your life about her relationship to money.” Then participants came together, shared what they heard, and played with creating visual frameworks to pull out themes and discover what was powerful behind those themes.
In collaboration with:
Gigi Gormley Kalaher VP, Design Strategy, Fidelity Investments
Dave Sonders, Senior Director, Salesforce
Fred Leichter, Founding Director, The Hive, Claremont Colleges
Want to innovate? Start with curiosity. In our culture today, especially here in Silicon Valley, we aggrandize the lone genius, the revolutionary thinker, and the breakthrough idea. There’s a lot of pressure to be a creative and original thinker, yet research shows that creativity comes from making unexpected connections between existing ideas. Curious people are more open to new experiences and information—they seek them out—and far more likely to make these creative connections. We all want more “ah-ha” moments; thankfully, curiosity is a mindset we can develop and hone.
In this course, we discussed and experienced the power of active curiosity. We took a critical look at the “Originality Myth” and explored a framework and methods for cultivating a practice of curiosity in life and in work. My co-facilitator, Gretchen Wustrack, and I built on the unique work being done at The Curiosity Atlas, and used this pop.up to prototype learning experiences.
In collaboration with Gretchen Wustrack, Stanford Lecturer; Founder & CEO, Curiosity Atlas.
Interdisciplinary teams and collaboration mark much of today’s work. Improv is a wonderful way to practice the skills and cultivate the mindsets for creative collaboration. Many of its fundamentals complement design thinking; for example, being comfortable in ambiguity, generating many ideas, building on the ideas of others, making offers, accepting offers, navigating between convergence and divergence, taking risks, observing, not anchoring to ideas, prototyping—on and on.
In this course, we focused our exercises around Presence, Failing, and Building on ideas—of course, all are reinforcing and interconnected. In between, participants discussed and reflected on what they learned and how to incorporate it into their own work. I can’t say enough about how valuable Improv has been to developing my design philosophy and my skills as a collaborator. I thought it was important to keep the Improv torch burning at the d.school.
To keep evolving, the d.school has permeable walls, continuously inviting in collaborators so there's an exchange of ideas between industry and academia, design and others disciplines. I often go back to mentor students and co-facilitate classes; below are the most recent that I've been involved with. Please feel free to reach out if you have an idea for a class we could collaborate on.