by Reece Dano, Oregon Chapter, Advertising& Marketing Division
Much has been made about design-thinking and its supposed ability to summon up innovation and transform organizations. True, its flashier proponents have led many to question the scope of its utility. However, working as an information specialist within a design consultancy, I’ve seen how carefully designed systems, products and communication methods can change lives. So what is it all about?
In brief, design-thinking is any process that allows you to change your point of view. These processes often use abductive thinking to promote creativity and temporarily subdue logical constraints. Participants in design-thinking activities are asked to make logical leaps in service of idea generation. The more ideas generated in this manner, the more your default (and possibly stale) thinking patterns are shaken and called into question.
The change of perspective design-thinking grants can lead to the acceptance of information that opens you to greater flexibility. For information professionals, this flexibility can inspire more relevant user-oriented services, career agility and the chance to envision even greater opportunities.
Design-thinking isn’t that hard. Changing your point of view is.
If you’re interested in opening your current services to a creative examination, here are some questions you can ask yourself to kick off a design-thinking session. Some of these questions are challenging. Others may seem a bit silly. However, the insights gleaned from all can easily lead to new and fruitful perspectives.
- If I were to plot my services on an axis from least-used to most-used, what would I see?
- If I were to plot my services on an axis from most-mission-critical to least-mission-critical, what would I see?
- If I transformed these axes into a Cartesian coordinate system, where would my services lie? Would I feel the need to reposition any of these services to a new quadrant?
- If the CEO or president of my organization suddenly became my assistant, what would I have them do? Why? What would that say about me and my role?
- If the receptionist of my organization suddenly became my assistant, what would I have them do? Why? What would that say about me and my role?
- How would I characterize the differences between the tasks I would assign the CEO versus the receptionist? What does that say about me and my role?
- If I had to take away all my services, save for one, which one would remain? Why? Would this remaining service be the core of my identity? Should it?
As you can see, these questions are loaded with imaginary scenarios that could easily lead to oversimplification. However, the purpose of these questions is not to generate carefully framed hypotheses – at least not yet. Rather they are meant to provoke thought, begin dialog and reposition perspectives.
Try them out. Come up with your own. See if you can use them to spot emerging opportunities for you, your customers and the information industry as a whole.
Reece Dano is an embedded Information Specialist within the Consumer Insights and Trends Analyst Group at Ziba Design. He has worked in both corporate and academic libraries since 1999. He holds an MLIS from the University of Washington iSchool. He currently serves on the board of the Special Library Association’s Division of Advertising and Marketing and is Chair of SLA’s First Five Years Advisory Council. He was a recipient of the SLA Rising Star Award in 2010.