FREEEEEEEDDOOOOMMM! Heed the battle cry and escape the tyranny of dotmocracy! Long live innovation!


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“Consensus kills innovation.”

This simple statement is (and ALWAYS has been) in every presentation I’ve ever used to introduce design thinking into a project. And yet I see over and over again consensus as the method used to decide on the design challenge, during ideation and in deciding a team’s prototyping direction. Let’s face it – these decisions are made because they are easy, safe and well within the realm of the expected. The results will inevitably be predictable and pedestrian.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

As a coach my tendency is to push the limits and create as much discomfort as I can without going too far, of course. It is a delicate balancing act; but it’s absolutely critical to remove the boundaries and prejudices we all have related to our challenges or problems. And believe me we all have them.

So how can this be beneficial for your challenge?

First, when scoping the challenge statement pick the area that receives less focus – stay away from those that anyone could have predicted before the exercise. Then take your research to the next level by finding extreme users and tangential stories to learn from. When it comes time to create a point of view or ‘how might we’ question for ideation, again pick the unexpected.

Next, as you move into the solution space, consider the ideas that are the wildest or craziest, the outliers. I often make participants come up with both impossible and illegal ideas as part of their brainstorming. And then I prod them to prototype them too! They often lead to the most interesting, the most creative, the most daring, the boldest and, dare I say it, the most innovative prototypes. Ultimately isn’t that what we are looking for??

Look, there are a lot of fringe benefits that come from leveraging design thinking. You’ll find your team collaborating better. It’s even a bit therapeutic. Different business units will learn to speak a common language, often for the first time. These things will absolutely open the door for something more…

I want more. I want freedom. How about you – what do you really want when you do design thinking with SAP?

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4 Comments

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  1. Lakshman Pachineela Seshadri

    Jeremy…. I ask the teams to use the dots only for the crazy and outliers and for not what they like.  That way the team knows what stands apart.  Yes multiple prototypes for those crazy and wild ones is now becoming the norm.  Good to know that we are pushing the limits. Great!

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    1. Jeremy Thomas Post author

      Hi Lucky,

      You’ve hit the exact point – with proper coaching and pushing there’s nothing really bad about the dots themselves. Would love to hear from others whether this sort of approach is the norm…

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    1. Jeremy Thomas Post author

      Hi Jens! Thanks for the comment. As Lucky points out, it’s more about how you coach them to use the dots. And as we know, it doesn’t hurt to do plenty of expectation setting that this is on of the critical aspects to understand for the ultimate success of any project with DT.

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