Anticipating the Future: Applying Design Thinking

Creative competitiveness is essential in a world of disruption. Tim Brown – an icon in contemporary management circles – will lead an exploration into the impact of Design Thinking on business.

  • Tim Brown, Executive Chair, IDEO

Session Photos


“We are all designers. We’re all shaping the world with some intention to meet the needs of ourselves,
our companies, our society. Design is a basic human activity.”


A design approach will foster “creative competitiveness” needed to be a fit enterprise:

Creative competitiveness requires
three capacities:

  • The capacity to have new ideas.
  • The ability to act on ideas.
  • The ability to share ideas, both inside the organization and outside in the world.

Why is that third point so important? Because new ideas that aren’t embraced by the outside will fail.

Tim Brown explains how to catalyze a design approach, not only to assimilate technology innovation, but to change the very nature of the organization.

“We’ve spent the last 50 years focusing on operational efficiency. In times of rapid change, it doesn’t matter how operationally fit you are. If you aren’t agile, you are at a disadvantage.”



How can chief communications officers enact a design process?

Adopt a design approach through a process of diverging to explore possibilities,
and converging to the ones that meet the needs of the people we serve.

The steps:

    • Engage in direct observation to understand the needs of the people your organization serves.
    • Once those needs are understood, clarify the question – what is the real, most urgent problem?
    • From there, start to explore ideas, without filters about what is “feasible.”
    • Build versions of what the answer will be – it might be a product, it might be a story. Then test them on your audience. “Learn through making until we get to something that works.”


Actions for chief communications officers

Ignite purpose: Innovation depends on extending far beyond the R&D department, to all parts of the organization. Defining purpose and activating it across stakeholders are essential to transformation.

Evolve the leadership model: Successful leadership comprises three key traits:

    • Explorer: Asking, what’s over the horizon?
    • Gardener: Setting the conditions for success.
    • Player/Coach: Knowing when you’re needed to work alongside your teams to help them take a risk they
      might not be able to on their own.

Foster collaboration: Problems inherent to an entire industry or sector may require convening across companies and disciplines.



In his own words:

“Don’t limit your thinking to what is feasible. There’s time for that later.”

“Whenever you get disruptions delivered by technology it tends to break down whatever silos were created in the organization to serve the old order.”

“Seek out questions and answer them, rather than only responding to the situation. What are the larger questions about the future that we ought to be thinking about?”

Tim Brown

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