All posts by Drew Boyd

3 Innovation Specialists Busting the Myth About Brainstorming

SIT JPGBy Orly Seagull

When thinking about creativity in teams, we often imagine a bunch of people in front of a flipchart throwing on the paper whatever comes to their mind – brainstorming.

But, what actually is brainstorming? And what is it actually useful for?

This is how Mark McGuinness defines the term:

“‘Brainstorming’ is such a common word that it’s often used to describe any meeting or conversation designed to generate ideas. But what the critics are really complaining about are formal brainstorming sessions, governed by a set of rules that originated with advertising manager Alex Faickney Osborn, in his 1963 book Applied Imagination. The basic assumption is that by suspending judgement, people free themselves to come up with unusual and potentially useful ideas. The four most important rules are:

  • Generate as many ideas as possible – the more ideas you come up with, the better chance you have of coming up with good ones.
  • Don’t criticise – it will dampen peoples’ enthusiasm and kill their creativity.
  • Welcome unusual ideas – it’s important to break out of your usual mindset and consider wild and wacky ideas if you want to be really creative.
  • Combine and improve ideas – instead of criticising ideas, look for way to use them in combination and/or make them better.

A leader is appointed to facilitate the session, encouraging people and making sure they stick to the rules. The leader is also responsible for collecting the ideas, usually by writing them on a whiteboard, flipchart or post it notes. Once ideas have been generated, they are evaluated at a later stage, to see which are worth implementing.”

(Mark McGuinness)

Even though brainstorming does have value, for the purpose of energizing, team building and alignment around a topic, there is one main drawback to the method: most results are of little practical value.

This is why: most ideas produced during brainstorming sessions don’t work in reality, because of a lack of essential filters. Again, McGuiness explains this very clearly:

“Brainstorming is said to work because critical thinking is banned, allowing for a freer flow of original ideas. But again, the research raises doubts about this. One study compared classic brainstorming sessions with sessions in which brainstormers were told what criteria would be used to evaluate their ideas and encouraged to use this information to guide their idea generation. The ‘criteria cued’ groups produce fewer ideas, but a larger number of high-quality ideas. The danger with brainstorming is that quantity does not equal quality.

A common source of frustration for professionals is having to sit through brainstorming sessions in which other people generate a stream of ideas that ‘simply won’t work’. Sometimes the subject experts have tried the ideas before, sometimes they just have technical knowledge that allows them to see why the ideas will never work. But because of the rules of brainstorming, they aren’t allowed to say so, as they will be labelled ‘idea killers’.”

(Mark McGuinness)

Instead, ideas in brainstorming sessions tend to be vague and abstract. Nick Fransen is quite pointed in his description of the common dynamics. He also translates his critique into a series of useful tips:

“Far too often (…) teams get stuck in the abstract world of fluff: Buzzword bingo! This is detrimental to innovation. It can destroy an idea’s chances of becoming a reality. Let me help you in your next endeavor.

Here are 8 words that should raise the hairs on the back of your neck: tread carefully!

  • Platform: Yup, That’s right. I wanted to get this one out of the way first. And here’s why: 90% of the time, it’s just a cover up for an idea that you didn’t really think through. Is it a matchmaking marketplace with a supply and demand side? Is it a DIY website builder? Is it … ? Seriously.
  • Fix: Try and explain your idea without using this word and find out how quickly you realise it’s an empty box
  • One Stop Shop: So you want to fix all the existing needs and problems in one go? Maybe that’s a bit much to take onto your plate as a 5-person team…
  • Instead, try and list all separate features you would need. How about actually nailing one thing at a time?
  • Disruptive: Actually, the main pain of this word is that it’s not used for what it really means . Unless you’re offering a service that was previously inaccessible to a certain customer group at a severely lowered price with a drastically improved UX, Don’t call it disruptive.
  • Community: How many people do you need before you’re community would be a success? Maybe try convincing 3 users first?
  • Quality Label: “Oh a community is indeed a lot of work. Let’s go for a quality label.” First off: how many of these labels actually exist already? Do you pay attention to any of them? Nope. Neither does anybody else. Next to that. How many partners would you need to convince to make it credible?
  • Omnichannel: Are you living in 2005? In all seriousness: focus! Find your early adopters and validate their preferred channel.
  • App: Really, you want to make an app for that? If you said ChatBot, I might’ve been excited. But app?
  • Big Data: Oh god.

(Nick Fransen, Board of Innovation)

So, not only are time and energy wasted on less-than-productive discussions, the process also inherently inhibits the creation of truly very radical ideas, as described by Paul Sloane:

“Unfortunately for managers, your presence in the room can inhibit people. With you there, it is very hard for your team to switch from normal meeting mode to creative brainstorm mode. You want them to confront the current conventions and generate unorthodox ideas. But some of these hidden factors might be at play:

  • Too much deference and respect for authority (you!)
  • Fear of looking silly
  • Fear of rejection
  • Not wanting to look disloyal or insolent
  • Dislike of conflict or argument

You tell them that anyone can challenge anything and make any suggestion. They nod in agreement but they are waiting to see what happens. Someone suggests something strange and you immediately point out why that might not work. People read the signals and you are straight back into a conventional meeting with little chance of the wealth of radical ideas you were hoping for.”

(Paul Sloane)

To summarize, Brainstorming can indeed be useful:

  • For a quick download of existing ideas.
  • To improve existing ideas.
  • For teambuilding.
  • To energize the team (at least until disappointment from results sets in).
  • To break hierarchical boundaries.

It is, therefore, important to consider what brainstorming can and cannot deliver:

If you are looking for any of the effects listed above, you might very well be needing brainstorming. If you are looking for innovation or actual idea generation, beware of its limitations.

And a last point to consider: if you are using an innovation methodology of any kind, ask yourself whether it is actually a new packaged version of (good) old Brainstorming.

Orly Seagull, VP Corporate Business Development at SIT. Posted from SIT.

Innovation Sighting: Attribute Dependency in Swiss Trains

RailwayFrom a distance this newest railway revolution might look like a string of large barrels tied together. But the Stoos Bahn is now the world’s
steepest funicular railway which just opened to the public. Taking over 14 years to build, and climbing at 110% gradient, the Stoos Bahn provides another transportation option for children traveling to school in mountainous Switzerland. And, tourists traveling to car-free Stoos now have another transportation option.

This newest innovation was made possible by using the Attribute Dependency Technique. Attribute Dependency is one of the five innovation methods called Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It works by creating (or breaking) a dependency between two attributes of a product or its environment. The Stoos Bahn utilizes this technique by building rotating cabins which allow the floor of the cabins to tilt as the rail incline increases, leaving the passengers on level footing.

As CNN states,

The cabins on the 52 million-Swiss franc ($52.6 million) funicular in the Swiss alpine resort of Stoos resemble rotating drums that keep passengers level as the gradient changes. The 1,720-meter track will run from the valley floor near Schwyz to car-free Stoos, which sits on a lofty plateau beneath the Fronalpstock mountain at 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) near Lake Lucerne. The track, which travels through the mountainside for part of its journey, rises 743 meters along gradients as steep as 110%.


The Stoos Bahn is just one example of innovating by using a template. It’s true that anyone can learn to create by utilizing the SIT methods. If you would like to get the most out of the Attribute Dependency Technique, follow these steps:

  1. List internal/external variables.
  2. Pair variables (using a 2 x 2 matrix)
  • Internal/internal
  • Internal/external
  1. Create (or break) a dependency between the variables.
  2. Visualize the resulting virtual product.
  3. Identify potential user needs.
  4. Modify the product to improve it.

Innovation Sighting: Partial Subtraction for Better Beer Drinking

BeerThe football season is into full swing. And, no doubt, countless beer drinkers experience the ever so frustrating tension of keeping a clear line of sight for that key play of the game without missing a gulp of their favorite brew. The engineers of the TV Beer Mug saw right through the problem (pun intended) by shaving off one side of the mug. By using the Subtraction Technique, the makers of the TV Beer Mug have eased the beer drinking, football watching woes of thousands of fans.

As Gizmodo humorously states,

Taking advantage of cutting-edge physics and engineering breakthroughs that are rarely seen outside of aerospace applications, this remarkable $11 mug looks as if one side has been cleaved clean off—which is the secret to how it works. The other side of the mug that usually blocks the view of your TV is gone, leaving you with a clean line of sight every time you take a swig.

It’s a perfect example of the Subtraction Technique, one of five in the innovation method, Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It’s also a great example of the Closed World Principle. Here’s how it works:

To get the most out of the Subtraction Technique, you follow five steps:

  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Select an essential component and imagine removing it. There are two ways: a. Full Subtraction. The entire component is removed. b. Partial Subtraction. Take one of the features or functions of the component away or diminish it in some way.
  3. Visualize the resulting concept(no matter how strange it seems).
  4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this new product or service, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge? After you’ve considered the concept“as is” (without that essential component), try replacing the function with something from the Closed World (but not with the original component). You can replace the component with either an internal or external component. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values of the revised concept?
  5. If you decide that this new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Learn how all five techniques can help you innovate – on demand.

Innovation Sighting: Yet Another Multiplication in Cameras

Camera LensThanks to Light’s newest camera innovation, serious photographers may make it through their upcoming shot lists with a welcomed spring to their step. In attempt to lessen the load of the average DSLR camera, Light created the streamlined L16. Not surprisingly, the innovation of this camera reflects one of the five innovation templates in Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT), the Multiplication Technique.

The Multiplication Technique is defined as copying an element already existing in the product or service but changing it in some counterintuitive way. Many innovations in cameras, including the basis of photography itself, are based on copying a component and then altering it. Utilizing this innovative pattern, Light replaced the typical DSLR lens with 16 smaller lenses, resulting in a compact camera which claims to provide the same quality photos as the standard DSLR.

As described in Tech Crunch:

The Light L16 is so-named because it has 16 camera modules, and it combines images from multiple modules at once to create images with greater depth, clarity, detail, color rendering and general quality than you’d otherwise be able to get out of a device that’s essentially the size of a thick smartphone. The L16’s sample images show depth-of-field and sharpness that would leave many DSLRs in the dust, in fact, which is the whole idea of the multi-module array.

The L16 is just one example of the benefit to creating with the use of innovation templates. To use the Multiplication Technique, begin by listing the components of the product, process, or service. You pick one of those components, make a copy of it. You keep the original component as is, but the copied component is changed. That creates the virtual product. Using Function Follows Form, you look for potential benefits, and you modify or adapt the concept to improve it to yield an innovative idea.

You can view the below video to see the Multiplication Technique at work in the L16.


Innovation Sighting: The Subtraction Technique and the No-Huddle Offense

Few activities are more iconic to American football than the huddle. Bill Pennington, in his New York Times article, “Ready, Set, Gone! The N.F.L.’s Disappearing Huddle” thoughtfully fills out the history, the heritage, and the slow disappearance of this classic practice. And while innovation is often thought of in connection to a tangible product, the emerging use of the “no-huddle offense” in football is an excellent example of innovation through the use of the innovation template known as The Subtraction Technique.

The Subtraction Technique is one of the five innovation methods in Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT). It works by removing an element of the system that seemed essential to identify a new value or benefit. When it comes to the no-huddle offense, teams are removing the essential component, the huddle, and replacing it with hand signals and code words. The benefit? More time on the clock to advance the ball and elevate a team’s chance for a win.

As Pennington explains,

Huddles remain the pervasive norm, but increasingly, many are condensed to several harried seconds, as quarterbacks bolt to the line of scrimmage and rely on hand signals and code words to communicate a new play to teammates as they line up.

This season, some offenses have spent nearly half a game — 25 plays — without stopping to huddle. Many teams’ defensive units huddle even less often. As a trend, it is viewed as inevitable innovation, and most in the N.F.L. expect the pace to quicken in coming seasons, a transformational jolt to an old-style league.

Time will tell whether this innovative strategy will outlive the infamous huddle. But it’s a perfect example of how innovation through templates knows no boundaries.

To get the most out of the Subtraction Technique, you follow five steps:

  1. List the product’s or service’s internal components.
  2. Select an essential component and imagine removing it. There are two ways: a. Full Subtraction. The entire component is removed. b. Partial Subtraction. Take one of the features or functions of the component away or diminish it in some way.
  3. Visualize the resulting concept(no matter how strange it seems).
  4. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this new product or service, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge? After you’ve considered the concept“as is” (without that essential component), try replacing the function with something from the Closed World (but not with the original component). You can replace the component with either an internal or external component. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values of the revised concept?
  5. If you decide that this new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it more viable?

Learn how all five techniques can help you innovate – on demand.

Look Inside a Woman’s Purse

By: Tom Ewing, Senior Director, System1 Group

“First I look at the purse” sang Motown’s The Countours. Kelley Styring, principal of InsightFarm, would sympathise. In 2006, then again in 2016, she asked hundreds of women to empty out their purses in the name of science. Her project, “an archaeology of the American handbag”, explores the meaning both personal and practical of purses – and, er, ‘murses’, since men are carrying them too: one of the big shifts between waves of the study. (The men themselves might prefer the term ‘satchels’.)

Between them, the purse-carrying women and men of America are toting an astonishing 271 million bags: “homes away from home” which are a remarkable commercial opportunity for any company making things that might find their way into them. But this opportunity is poorly understood, and manufacturers of both purses and purse contents are failing their customers, according to Styring. The interior of a purse is an extremely hostile environment, halfway between a tumble-dryer and a lucky dip, and the lipsticks, coupons, receipts, and headphone cords which find their way in are prone to gradually degrade into either trash or “digital hairballs”. The purse is both beautifully practical – a little bag you can carry your life’s essentials in – and desperately unwieldy during the precious seconds when you’re trying to get something out of it.

Styring’s entertaining presentation married survey research and ethnography to explore not just what’s in America’s purses (1 in 10 contains a weapon, though the main categories are money, cards, phones, personal care, and keys) but what they mean. She explored the Circle of Preparedness – the way the contents of a purse enable its carrier to be ready to help herself, her family, her friends and often complete strangers who need a band-aid, a pen, or a light. The purse is an entry point into adulthood for women in their early teens for whom it becomes a mobile resource for their newfound independence, carrying money, phones and sanitary items. Gain entry to a purse in these formative years and categories and brands can make a customer for life.

But the purse is also a kind of limbo, into which items are placed and forgotten: one woman Styring surveyed turned out to be carrying 17 different pens, mostly promotional ones liberated from stores and banks. Unwanted receipts, degraded tissues, and forgotten gewgaws fight for space with genuine essentials. And into this behavioural melting pot, an unexpected interloper has found its way between 2006 and now: the smartphone.

Behaviours around smartphones both complement and duplicate behaviours around purses. Both are connectors – bridges between home (where needs are made) and the store (where needs are satisfied). Both are also ways of organising and making portable one’s everyday life – the purse content categories which dropped off between ways are things like coupons, which are increasingly being replaced by e-commerce and m-commerce offers. Despite this, the weight and the number of items in purses remained constant over the last decade – for every obsolete category, some new item comes to take their place.

Smartphones and purses may overlap in function, but purses are also where you put your phone. This integration between digital order and physical mess is where Strying sees some of the billions of dollars of innovation potential in the world of the purse. What will smart purses look like – ones that respond to being opened with useful information, or which establish a cone of RFID silence to protect their bearer? There are also plenty of purely physical problems still to solve – there must be a way of designing purse contents for the dangerous environments they are placed in.

Styring’s presentation was a delight –rich in insights and stories: her firm InsightFarm has published a book detailing the results of the second wave. You came away feeling that her study was rather like a purse itself: elegantly designed, compact, and full of both useful stuff and unexpected surprises.

Article reposted by permission of KNect365. View original article here.

KNect365, the Knowledge & Networking Division of Informa, organizes high-quality, content-driven events and programs that enable specialist communities to meet, connect, network and share knowledge. KNect365 provides digital content, memorable face to face experiences, networking and professional development and learning for customers in key industry verticals, including Finance, Life Sciences and Technology.

Innovation Sighting: Task Unification and GladWare Containers

GladWare containers have become a common household item. Most kitchens today have that designated drawer filled to the brim with self-stacking plastic wonders and the infamous lids with the center circle. Those center circles are most convenient, providing an interlocking feature for stacking, as GladWare intended.  

Yet just a week ago, a photo of a typical, everyday moment went viral. A mom packing lunches for her family
snapped a shot of her partially filled GladWare containers, revealing a less-known innovation feature: a lid within a lid.  Who knew all along that Glad’s dressing cups fit up into the larger lid! Not only did the lightbulb come on for tens of thousands of lunch packers, but it revealed an innovation template within the GladWare design: Task Unification.

Task Unification is defined as: assigning an additional task to an existing resource. That resource should be in the immediate vicinity of the problem, or what we call The Closed World. In essence it’s taking something that is already around you and giving an additional job. Glad, through the integration of a center circle in its lids, created an additional lid for its smaller dressing containers, resulting in an all-in-one packing option.

Fox News shares:

Though Glad has marketed its To-Go Lunch containers as equipped with special “dressing cups that snap into [the] lid,” most have just assumed the circle in the middle of the lid was a design feature, not a built-in dressing holder.

But now that this lunch hack has been revealed, it’s likely that more and more people will be taking advantage of the spill-proof cap storage.

You can also utilize this technique to innovate helpful products. To get the most out of the Task Unification technique, you follow five basic steps:

  1. List all of the components, both internal and external, that are part of the Closed World of the product, service, or process.
  2. Select a component from the list. Assign it an additional task, using one of three methods:
  • Choose an external component and use it to perform a task that the product accomplishes already
  • Choose an internal component and make it do something new or extra
  • Choose an internal component and make it perform the function of an external component, effectively “stealing” the external component’s function
  1. Visualize the new (or changed) products or services.
  2. What are the potential benefits, markets, and values? Who would want this, and why would they find it valuable? If you are trying to solve a specific problem, how can it help address that particular challenge?
  3. If you decide the new product or service is valuable, then ask: Is it feasible? Can you actually create these new products? Perform these new services? Why or why not? Is there any way to refine or adapt the idea to make it viable?

How a Creative Legal Leap Helped Create Vast Wealth

In 1911, someone asked Butler to name the most important invention of the industrial era.

Steam, perhaps? Electricity?

"No," he said. They would both "be reduced to comparative impotence" without "the greatest single discovery of modern times" - the limited liability corporation.

It seems odd to say the corporation was "discovered". But it didn't just appear from nowhere.

Creative legal leap

The word "incorporate" means take on bodily form - not a physical body, but a legal one.

In the law's eyes, a corporation is something different from the people who own it, or run it, or work for it.

And that's a concept lawmakers had to dream up.

Without laws saying that a corporation can do certain things - such as own assets, or enter into contracts - the word would be meaningless.

The legal ingredients that comprise a corporation came together in a form we would recognise in England, on New Year's Eve, in 1600.

Back then, creating a corporation didn't simply involve filing in some routine forms - you needed a royal charter.

And you couldn't incorporate with the general aim of doing business and making profits - a corporation's charter specifically said what it was allowed to do, and often also stipulated that nobody else was allowed to do it.

The legal body created that New Year's Eve was the Honourable East India Company, charged with handling all of England's shipping trade east of the Cape of Good Hope.

Liability liberation

Its shareholders were 218 merchants. Crucially - and unusually - the charter granted those merchants limited liability for the company's actions.

Why was that so important? Because otherwise, investors were personally liable for everything the business did.

If you partnered in a business that ran up debts it couldn't pay, its debtors could come after you - not just for the value of your investment, but for everything you owned.

That's worth thinking about: whose business might you be willing to invest in, if you knew that it could lose you your home, and even land you in prison?

Perhaps a close family member's? At a push, a trusted friend's?

The way we invest today - buying shares in companies whose managers we will never meet - would be unthinkable. And that would severely limit the amount of capital a business venture could raise.

Back in the 1500s, perhaps that wasn't much of a problem. Most business was local, and personal. But handling England's trade with half the world was a weighty undertaking.

Over the next two centuries, the East India Company grew to look less like a trading business than a colonial government.

At its peak, it ruled 90 million Indians and employed an army of 200,000 soldiers. It had a meritocratic civil service and issued its own coins.

Meanwhile, the idea of limited liability caught on.

In 1811, New York state introduced it, not as a royal privilege, but for any manufacturing company. Other states and countries followed, including the world's leading economy, Britain, in 1854.

Industrial growth

Not everyone approved. The Economist magazine was initially sniffy, pointing out that if people wanted limited liability they could agree it through private contracts.

But the limited liability company would prove its worth. The new industrial technologies of the 19th Century needed lots of capital.

A railway company, for example, needed to raise large sums to lay tracks before it could make a penny in profit. How many investors would risk everything on its success? Not many.

Soon, The Economist was gushing that the unknown inventors of limited liability deserved "a place of honour with Watt, Stephenson and other pioneers of the industrial revolution".

But the limited liability corporation has its problems, one of which was obvious to the father of modern economic thought, Adam Smith.

In The Wealth of Nations, in 1776, Smith dismissed the idea that professional managers would do a good job of looking after shareholders' money.

"It cannot well be expected that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which partners in a private co-partnery frequently watch over their own," he wrote.

In principle, Smith was right. There's always a temptation for managers to play fast and loose with investors' money.

Maximising profit

We've evolved corporate governance laws to try to protect shareholders, but they haven't always succeeded, as investors in Enron or Lehman Brothers might tell you.

And they generate their own tensions.

Consider the fashionable idea of "corporate social responsibility" - where a company might donate to charity, or decide to embrace higher labour or environmental standards than those stipulated in law.

It can be clever brand-building, and in some cases may result in higher sales. In others, managers may be using shareholders' money to buy social status or a quiet life.

For that reason, the economist Milton Friedman argued that "the social responsibility of business is to maximise its profits". If it's legal, and it makes money, they should do it. And if people don't like it, don't blame the company - change the law.

The trouble is that companies can influence the law, too. They can fund lobbyists. They can donate to electoral candidates' campaigns.


The East India Company quickly learned the value of maintaining cosy relationships with British politicians, who duly bailed it out whenever it got into trouble.

In 1770, for example, a famine in Bengal clobbered the company's revenue. British legislators saved it from bankruptcy, by exempting it from tariffs on tea exports to the American colonies, which was, perhaps, short-sighted on their part: it eventually led to the Boston Tea Party, and the American Declaration of Independence.

You could say the United States owes its existence to excessive corporate influence on politicians.

And arguably, corporate power is even greater today, for a simple reason: in a global economy, corporations can threaten to move offshore.

When Britain's lawmakers eventually grew tired of the East India Company's demands, they had the ultimate sanction: in 1874, they revoked its charter.

For multinationals with opaque ownership structures, that threat is effectively off the table.

Power of hierarchy

We often think of ourselves as living in a world where free market capitalism is the dominant force. Few want a return to the command economies of Mao or Stalin, where hierarchies, not markets, decided what to produce.

And yet hierarchies, not markets, are exactly how decisions are taken within companies.

When a receptionist or an accounts payable clerk makes a decision, they're not doing so because the price of soy beans has risen. They're following orders from the boss.

In the US, bastion of free-market capitalism, about half of all private sector employees work for companies with a payroll of at least 500.

Some argue that companies have grown too big, too influential.

In 2016, Pew Research asked Americans if they thought the economic system was "generally fair", or "unfairly favours powerful interests". By two to one, unfair won. Even The Economist worries that regulators are now too timid about exposing market-dominating companies to a blast of healthy competition.

But let's not forget what the limited liability company has done for us.

By helping investors pool their capital without taking unacceptable risks, it enabled big industrial projects, stock markets and index funds. It played a foundational role in creating the modern economy.

Tim Harford writes the Financial Times's Undercover Economist column. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy is broadcast on the BBC World Service. You can find more information about the programme's sources and listen online or subscribe to the programme podcast.

Article from BBC News:

Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector

Design_thinking_for_the_greater_good_covFacing especially wicked problems, social sector organizations are searching for powerful new methods to understand and address them. Design Thinking for the Greater Good goes in depth on both the how of using new tools and the why. As a way to reframe problems, ideate solutions, and iterate toward better answers, design thinking is already well established in the commercial world. Through ten stories of struggles and successes in fields such as health care, education, agriculture, transportation, social services, and security, the authors show how collaborative creativity can shake up even the most entrenched bureaucracies—and provide a practical roadmap for readers to implement these tools.

The design thinkers Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman, and Daisy Azer explore how design thinking helped impoverished farmers adopt new practices in Mexico, kept at-risk California teenagers in school, reduced the frequency of mental health emergencies in Australia, and helped manufacturers and government regulators in Washington find common ground on medical device standards. Across these vastly different problems and sectors, these groups have used the tools of design thinking to reduce risk, manage change, use resources more effectively, bridge the communication gap between parties, and manage the competing demands of diverse stakeholders. Along the way, they have improved the quality of their products and enhanced the experiences of those they serve.

With strategies accessible to analytical and creative types alike, and benefits extending throughout an organization, Design Thinking for the Greater Good will help today's leaders and thinkers implement these practices in their own pursuit of creative solutions that are both innovative and achievable.


Jeanne Liedtka is a professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. Her books include Solving Problems with Design Thinking (2013), Designing for Growth (2011), and The Designing for Growth Field Book (2013), all from Columbia University Press.

Randy Salzman is a journalist and former communications professor. His work has been published in over one hundred magazines, journals, and newspapers, from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to Mother JonesBicycling, and Style.

Daisy Azer is an entrepreneur, principal at Waterbrand Consulting Inc., and adjunct lecturer of design thinking at the Darden Graduate School of Business. Her career spans roles in business development and training and development in the financial industry, education, and technology.