Tim Brown

c. 1960

American Industrial Designer, CEO and President of IDEO, Chairman of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Creative Economy, Author, Writer for the Harvard Business Review and The Economist

Author Quotes

Brainstorming, ironically, is a structured way of breaking out of structure. It takes practice.

Design thinking extends the perimeter around a problem.

Fail early to succeed sooner.

Like every other kid, I was thinking with my hands, using physical props as a springboard for my imagination. This shift from physical to abstract and back again is one of the most fundamental processes by which we explore the universe, unlock our imaginations, and open our minds to new possibilities.

Synthesis, the act of extracting meaningful patterns from masses of raw information, is a fundamentally creative act; the data are just that?data?and the facts never speak for themselves. Sometimes the data are highly technical?if the task is a sophisticated piece of medical equipment, for instance; in other cases they may be purely behavioral, for example, if the problem is to encourage people to switch to energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs. In every case we may think of the designer as a master storyteller whose skill is measured by his or her ability to craft a compelling, consistent, and believable narrative.

The tools of conventional market research can be useful in pointing toward incremental improvements, but they will never lead to those rule-breaking, game-changing, paradigm-shifting breakthroughs that leave us scratching our heads and wondering why nobody ever thought of them before.

We should be suspicious when an idea becomes too closely identified with the person who first thought it up.

But the mark of a designer, as the legendary Charles Eames said often, is a willing embrace of constraints.

Design thinking is about creating a multipolar experience in which everyone has the opportunity to participate in the conversation.

From the perspective of the design thinker, a new idea will have to tell a meaningful story in a compelling way if it is to make itself hear. There is still a role for advertising, but less as a medium for blasting messages at people than as a way of helping turn its audience into storytellers themselves. Anyone who has a positive experience with an idea should be able to communicate its essential elements in a way that encourages other people to try it out for themselves.

Mastering the art of asking questions is essential to creativity and innovation. A More Beautiful Question should be standard reading for all aspiring design thinkers as well an inspiration to those searching for a life of curiosity and meaning.

Technology alone does not necessarily result in a better customer experience.

The willing and even enthusiastic acceptance of competing constraints is the foundation of design thinking.

What we need are new choices ? new products that balance the needs of individuals and of society as a whole; new ideas that tackle the global challenges of health, poverty, and education; new strategies that result in differences that matter and a sense of purpose that engages everyone affected by them.

Cultures are basically built around value; they?re built around what people think are important. And if you evolve what you think is important, you can evolve the culture. I mean IBM is a great example of a company that went from being a highly technocratic technological culture to being essentially a management consulting culture today by changing what they thought was important. You can?t expect to change it overnight; it takes a lot of effort by a lot of people over a lot of time. But I absolutely believe it?s possible to do. I think it?s essential. I mean, let?s face it, the world is changing so dramatically today that hardly any organization is set up for the future. And so if we can?t change our cultures, then essentially we?re accepting that the organizations we have today will disappear and other ones will emerge to replace it. It?s not a very optimistic view and it?s also not one that shareholders will probably get very excited about.

Design thinking is neither art nor science nor religion. It is the capacity, ultimately, for integrative thinking.

Ideas should not be favored based on who creates them. (Repeat aloud.)

Most business processes are about making choices from a set of existing alternatives. Clearly, if all your competition is doing the same, then differentiation is tough. In order to innovate, we have to have new alternatives and new solutions to problems, and that is what design can do.

That?s the tremendous opportunity of design thinking, particularly in the world of services. It?s the opportunity for the people who are actually delivering the service to spot needs, develop new ideas and implement them, and kind of have some level of control and influence on the way that they interact with customers.

There are at least three significant areas where design thinking can promote what Canadian designer Bruce Mau calls the ?massive change? that is called for today. The first has to do with informing ourselves about what is at stake and making visible the true costs of the choices we make. The second involves a fundamental reassessment of the systems and processes we use to create new things. The third task to which design thinking must respond is to find ways to encourage individuals to move toward more sustainable behaviors.

Where you innovate, how you innovate, and what you innovate are design problems.

Curse deadlines all you want, but remember that time can be our most creative constraint.

Design thinking is really about using the sensibilities and methodologies that designers have developed to create new choices, new alternatives, new ideas that haven?t existed in the world before. But it?s being applied today much further upstream and to a much broader set of problems than it has been traditionally. It?s the same skills that designers developed literally for decades, but [those skills are now] applied on a much broader canvas than they used to be.

If it is truly innovative, it challenges the status quo.

Mostly we rely on stories to put our ideas into context and give them meaning. It should be no surprise, then, that the human capacity for storytelling plays an important role in the intrinsically human-centered approach to problem solving, design thinking.

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c. 1960

American Industrial Designer, CEO and President of IDEO, Chairman of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Creative Economy, Author, Writer for the Harvard Business Review and The Economist