One that most of us just don’t have. Like most myths this just isn’t true. Of course there are creative geniuses,

no one would want to deny that truly extraordinary minds,

like Steve Jobs, exist. But genius is not the only

way to produce innovation. And believing the Moses myth

undermines managers’ confidence in their own abilities. And what I want to do is just ask for

equal time to tell a different version of the story of innovation and

where it comes from. This is a view of the creative process

that was offered by an employee of Apple a few years back, and

it is one of my favorites. Not because I agree with it, but because I think it captures

the Moses myth beautifully. That old story that

innovation is a black box. It’s a hopeless tangle. And the ability to think creatively

is the mysterious one that belongs to a special class of people. In this class, we are going to

respectively disagree with that story and tell a different one. Rather than waiting for

Moses to show up and part the Red Sea for us we are going to figure out how to build

bridges to cross over to the other side. To that promised land of the new future so that we can reliably

manufacture our own miracles. So let’s look at a different

view of the creative process. In this view, the tangled mess morphs,

into a systematic series of questions. The first of these questions is,


 1- what is? And it explores current reality. All successful innovation begins,

I believe, with an accurate assessment

of what is going on today. Indeed starting out by developing

a better understanding of current reality is a hallmark

of design thinking and it’s the core of design’s data

intensive and user driven approach. Managers frequently want to run

immediately to the future to start the innovation process by

brainstorming new options and ideas. And they find it hard to focus on

immersing themselves to the here and now. 


We’re so impatient to get to creating new stuff. But attending to the present pays

dividends in two crucial ways. 


First, it helps broaden and

perhaps even change completely our definition of the problem or

opportunity we want to tackle. We can unwittingly throw away

all kinds of opportunities for innovation before we even get

started if we adopt too narrow or too conventional

a definition of the problem.

 Second, this attention to the present

helps uncover unarticulated needs, which are the key to producing

the kind of innovative design criteria that generate really

differentiated solutions. And those are the kind that we want

to build profitable businesses. 

1 What is saves us from having to rely entirely on our own imagination as we

move into idea development. And it gives us solid and ideally deep insight into what our stakeholders truly want and need. Which reduces the risk of

failure with a new idea. Focusing on what is helps us to

specify what a great solution will look like without telling

us the solution itself. 

Now, having accomplished that, we’re ready

to ask the second question,

2- what if, and begin to generate ideas and

explore possible solutions. So, we’ve examined the data we’ve

gathered, we’ve identified patterns and insights and we’ve translated these

into specific design criteria as part of the what is phase. Now we’re going to use those

criteria to ask what if? Keeping in mind that we want to

start this part of the process by focusing on possibilities. What if anything were possible? That I believe is one of the most

powerful questions anyone can ask. So often we get trapped into starting with

constraints rather than possibilities. And then the future ends up

looking a lot like the present. This phase is where brainstorming occurs. Brainstorming is a process that

most managers have learned to hate. But this time I promise will be different. No more asking you to come up with

ten novel uses for a paperclip. Rather than relying entirely

on our imaginations and idea generation, we’re going to go back

and use the insights and the criteria we generated during data gathering and

pose a series of trigger questions. Those questions will help us think

outside of our own boxes and generate multiple creative ideas. In fact, we can think of each of

these individual ideas as though they were a single Lego block. Just the kind of Lego’s we

all played with as children. And then in concept development we’re

going to take those individual ideas and combine them, just the way kids do with Lego’s, into

all kinds of different cool creations. And we’ll call these creations

our business concepts. And now that we have a whole set of

business concepts it’s time to move to the first stage of testing by

asking our third question. 

3-What wows? In this stage we’re going to

treat each of our business concepts explicitly as a hypothesis. And begin to think systematically

about evaluating them against our design criteria. Now if we get the first two

questions approximately right we’ll find to our simultaneous

pleasure and dismay that we have far too many interesting

concepts to move forward all at once. And so we have to make some hard choices. As we whittle the field of concepts to

a manageable number, we’re looking for those that hit the sweet spot. The wow spot. Where the chance of significant upside for our stakeholders matches our

organizational resources and capabilities and our ability to

sustainably deliver the new offering. This is the Wow Zone. And making this assessment

involves surfacing and testing the assumptions about why

each of our concepts is a good idea. The concepts that wow, the ones that pass

the first test, are good candidates for turning into experiments to be

conducted with actual users. In order to do this,

we need to transform the concepts into something a potential customer

can interact with, a prototype. So finally we’re ready to learn from the

real world by asking our fourth question. What works. And trying out a low fidelity

prototype with actual users. If they like it and give us useful

feedback, then we refine the prototype and test it with yet more users. Iterating our way until we feel confident

about the value of our new idea and are ready to scale it. As we move through what works. It’s important to keep in mind some of

the principles behind this learning in action stage. 

 -Work and fast feedback cycles.

 -Minimize the cost of conducting experiments.

 Fail early to succeed sooner and test for key tradeoffs and assumptions early on. And there you have it. Just four questions that will

help us build the bridge to more innovative solutions and manufacture our

own miracles without relying on Moses. And so, this is what I’m going to be

focusing on in our time together.

 Design thinking as a problem solving

approach that asks four questions, and that is 




and iterative in its approach.


 Let me talk about each of those for

a moment in turn. Human-centered is where we always start,

with people. With real human beings. Not demographics or segmentation schemes. 

Design thinking emphasizes the importance

of deep exploration into the lives and the problems of the people we

hope to generate value for before we’re allowed to

start generating solutions. This is why it’s often

called user-driven design. It adopts market research methodologies

that are qualitative, and empathetic. And it’s also enthusiastic about engaging

other human beings in co-creation.

 Design thinking is also possibility-driven. It uses this information we’ve learned

to ask the question, what if anything, were possible? As we begin to create new

ideas about how to serve them. It also focuses on generating

multiple option, and avoids putting our eggs in

particular solution basket. Because we’re guessing about

our stakeholders needs and wants, when we go after

unarticulated needs. We expect to be wrong a lot, so we want

to put multiple irons in the fire and let our stakeholders

tell us which works for them, which means we want to

manage a portfolio of new ideas. Finally, the process is iterative. It’s committed to conducting cycles

of real world experiments rather than running analysis using historical data. It’s a process of continuously forming and testing and

then reforming our ideas about what works. We don’t expect to get

it right the first time. We expect to iterate our way to success. Let’s learn some more about design

thinking from some experts on the subject by viewing the video,

what is design thinking. We’ve created that video here at Darden

and I’d like you to check it out and I’ll rejoin you to look at design

thinking in action when you’re finished.