Monday, September 29, 2014

Inspiring An Innovation Generation: Design Thinking Skill Sets Explored

In the last post I described to you a study titled :"The Innovator DNA" conducted by Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregerson and Clayton M. Christensen(2009) in which the authors identified  five skills that separate innovative from non-innovative individuals.

The five skills: associating, questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking, were then broken up into two simple categories, doing and thinking. Under the category of "doing", the following would be placed:

  1. Questioning---This skill allow innovators to break out of the status quo and consider new possibilities. We often hear the directive that in order to innovate within a company setting or education organization, we need to "think outside the box" which means breaking away from the status quo. However this is not an impulsive action but an action that is part of a process.
  2. Observing--Through observing, innovators detect small behavioral details in the activities of customers, suppliers and other companies that suggest new ways of doing things.
  3. Experimenting--They relentlessly try out new experiences and explore the world.
  4. Networking---Through networking with individuals from diverse backgrounds, they gain radically different perspectives.

The final skill fits into the category of thinking:

Associating---The four patterns of action listed above help innovators associate to cultivate new insights.

So, the question becomes what are the most essential qualities of a "successful" innovator?
The study points to the following essentials of a successful innovator:

  1. Curiosity-- This is the habit of asking good questions and a desire to understand more deeply. This is a quality that the brick and mortar education systems sought to control rather than to nurture. this is evident when one examines how children enter the school system overflowing with curiosity  and how by the time they have reached middle grades, this has been regimented out of them.
  2. Collaboration--This begins with listening to and learning from others who have expertise and perspectives that are different from your own. Listening is one of the casualties of the digital age. The focus on self and entitlement has made it difficult for individuals to objectively listen to others.
  3. Associative or Integrative Thinking--- This involves having and promoting a bias towards action and experimentation. Within companies this is the most difficult thing to nurture because before it can happen on the many levels within the company structure, it must be guided by a corporate vision that approves of such a path and is communicated in an organized, systemic fashion throughout the company.
The ideas that I have outlined above and in previous posts on design thinking is not exhaustive here. I have merely scratched the surface but the benefits for both business and education focused on the development of a culture of innovation are quite remarkable.

No comments: