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Check Out Design Thinking at TED Global

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on August 8, 2009

IDEO’s Tim Brown was at TED Global in London and talks about DT—Design Thinking at the conference.

Funny. IDEO co-founder David Kelley was in NYC last week and talked about CC—Creative Competence. I’m loving the term. In an era of constant change and uncertainty, we all need a new competence to add to our traditional analytical competence. That is Creative Competence, which is a set of tools and methods to understand uncertainty, proposed new options and quickly make the right choices.


Reader Comments

Sergei Dovgodko

August 8, 2009 11:06 PM

The ability to think creatively is formed before the age of 7 and then steadily killed in the education system.

By the time individuals reach working age, there are few individuals that still think creatively, possibly due to family support or exceptional educators.

If we want to increase the collective ability of creative thinking, we should educate the parents on values of creativity.

Also creative/design thinking should be taught throughout K-12 curriculum.

Teaching creativity/design thinking in a corporate setting has limited value. It is too late.

Shimon Shmueli

August 9, 2009 7:28 PM

How about Balanced Delivery? BD>DT

Not a sexy term like design, creative, innovation, etc., and kind of reminds me of accounting and project management, but isn't that what we strive for at the end? It implies all of the above (DT, CC, DFE, SD, ET, etc.) in the right measures managed with a holistic approach to deliver true sustainable value to all stakeholders.

OK, after some more thinking... forget that one too! We are trying to oversimplify while the reality at the trenches of business, engineering, design, marketing, government, are so much more complicated.

In any case, I am glad to see some signs that design thinking is somewhat fading away and designers of all types can go back to do what they really excel at using whatever their thinking and feelings tools are, and create wonderful things (in collaboration with MBA's, engineers, accountants, etc.)


August 9, 2009 10:18 PM

Spot on Sergei. Also, teaching/nurturing creativity requires we rethink what we communicate about failure in school and on the job. Difficult, if not impossible, to encourage creative expression/risk that doesn't also teach value of failure as necessary pathway to success.


August 10, 2009 6:13 AM

So, you guys are right about creative competence and the desperate need for creative/design thinking at the K-12 levels. So what are you doing about it? As someone who has come from the world of trying to reform education by supporting the Arts Education movement (as inspired by the work of Howard Gardner and those who came after him), the technology and business communities were blaringly absent. There are lots of NPOs across the country that have been doing this work. Find one in your own community and support them--volunteer your own time, donate funds, support a teaching artist/designer, sponsor an afterschool program with a project. Get your own company to do it. Get involved, yourself. It takes more than just the parents, it takes a village. Chasing a career power and money isn't everything. Inspiring creativity and producing useful products for society with the creative skills you've been taught to appreciate (rather than discount) is just far more important.


August 10, 2009 5:05 PM

yeah, this is exactly what we need. yet another definition for an already abstract idea most people outside the design community struggle to fully comprehend.

why not just stick to the term design thinking? is "CC" that much different?

Murli Nagasundaram, PhD

August 10, 2009 6:35 PM

Sergei, I agree with everything you've stated, except the last: "Teaching creativity/design thinking in a corporate setting has limited value. It is too late."

The limited value you speak of is only in comparison with what might have been, if we'd caught 'em young and trained them then. Since I teach both MBA students (with fulltime careers) as well as train industry personnel, I have first-hand knowledge of individuals being transformed, and in turn, transforming their little corner of their organizations with the creativity/innovation/design knowledge
they have gained as 'wizened' adults. Yeah, it's a smaller fraction of them that can do such a thing, than if we had worked with school kids, but it doesn't take very many highly motivated individuals to eventually impact the world at large.

In all the years, there has never been a course I have taught when there hasn't been at least one individual who seems like he or she is going to go back and change their worlds. Years later, I hear back from them, with proof that the training did bear fruit. And they're still as excited as ever.

Yes, when I look around me, there are a lot of reasons to feel pessimistic, but every time I prepare to throw in the towel, some horrible idealistic and cheerful person renews my hopes again.

Sergei Dovgodko

August 11, 2009 4:19 AM


As a part of my job I teach "creative problem solving" in a large corporation.

I would agree that there is a benefit of exposing managers to abductive inquiry (a.k.a. creativity). I have observed that most of the time creative/design thinking feels foreign for the managers because they are trained on analysis/deduction and induction.

Yet there is about 25% of the class that feel very receptive of the principles of creativity and synthesis. Those people benefit immensely. The others get the message that creativity is tolerable in a corporation.

So there is a benefit indeed.

Linda: My corporation runs a number of science and creativity programs in the local K-12 system. Yet the problem is too big. Corporations can't solve that.

I do believe the US Gov. needs to promote creativity and design in schools, with all means available to it.

Murli Nagasundaram, PhD

August 12, 2009 7:35 AM

Building on Sergei's comment, schools not only need to promote creativity and design in school (as a first step), they should integrate into the entire curriculum (Step 2), and further, education as a whole requires to be completely transformed (Step 3). Although the content of education has expanded significantly over the past century, the methods of instruction (and even the focus on "instruction" rather than "development" and "transformation") as well as the way education is viewed and imparted (originally, and still, to feed The Wide World of Business & Industry, and later, Sports & Entertainment and the Military) has not changed much.

So, formal education (as opposed to apprenticeship training) once produced Monks, and for the past century has produced Corporate Stiffs. I don't wish to presume I know what the emerging era needs, but I think it's gotta be a whole lot different from Monks and Corporate Stiffs.

Dibyendu De

August 17, 2009 12:08 PM

I did not understand as to why it would be difficult to teach Creativity to Corporates while we find it easy to teach it in schools. All creativity comes from keen and curious observation of the present reality. As adults what we miss out is our observation skills. So, all that needs to be taught or facilitated is the observation skill. Creativity automatically follows from it and that too quite effortlessly. I have found it to be true for the last 10 years.

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