Kevin Bennett on How Design Thinking Leads to Better Planning

Solving Problems with Design Thinking

In an August 2013 Forbes article Kevin Bennett, co-author with Jeanne Liedtka and Andrew King of of Solving Problems with Design Thinking: 10 Stories of What Works,” explains how design thinking can create a better understanding of today to get a better tomorrow. (And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)

Bennett begins by laying out the foundation of our thinking and how we approach problems in our life. There is a set origin, A, and a final destination, B. Our efforts lie in reaching point B from point A as soon as possible, with optimal investment of time and resources. This specific construct, as Bennett describes, is evident in all spheres of our thinking, whether it be in business or personal life: “Early in life we are taught to chase one ‘B’ after another, whether applying to college or jobs or getting to retirement, we are constantly chasing the ‘B’ just over the horizon. The same applies to business. We periodically set goals and then set out chasing them, trying to stay just ahead of the market.”

He stresses on the importance of focusing on our starting point, A, so we know where we are coming from as well as gain a solid understanding of our own self in relation to the world. He sheds light on two keys terminologies to enhance our understanding with regards to design thinking—journey mapping and mind mapping:

Design thinking guides us through an archeological dig to better understand “A” with a sense of openness to exploration and discovery. In this archeological dig, design thinking takes up ethnographic research tools to help us truly understand customers and other stakeholders. “Journey mapping” enables us to map other people’s personal experiences by walking in their shoes. “Mind mapping” allows us to understand the values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations of individuals, to see the world through their eyes as they walk through their journeys.

In order to substantiate his theory, he provides an example about a healthcare company, MeYouHealth:

MeYouHealth, a company that works with employers to improve employee health and lower health care costs, worked with consumers to better understand why they valued their health. This company then leveraged social networks to help employees make better lifestyle choices, improve health outcomes and lower costs. Based on a clearer understanding of human motivations, such as being active with grandchildren, riding horses or playing golf, MeYouHealth was able to focus on triggers and activities that are most influential to behavior. To reduce health care costs, they had to change employee behavior, and to change employee behavior, they had to get to know their employees better.

Bennett concludes by suggesting that design thinking can broaden our thinking and expand our insights into a variety of industries and cultures, “For example, in France, a group of banks and insurance companies said that design thinking ‘equipped us bankers and insurers with a new pair of glasses through which to see the world, our society, our clients and our jobs differently.'”

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