Thinking Like a Designer

Last week I went to Stanford’s Innovation Journalism conference. For this conference they invited lots of media makers and paired them up around topics to have round table discussions. I was paired with Corey Ford, a former Stanford Knight fellow who became one of the founders/forces behind Stanford’s Design Institute.

I never thought I was a “design thinker” but maybe I am. Corey and I were speaking each other’s language within 10 seconds of chatting. Where I often say journalism and startups need to practice an “agile and iterative” processes – Corey describes this as the process of design and innovation. Below are a few slides from his handout that 100% overlap with the type of thinking that I often tell people we need in journalism.

  • Slide 1: Just a nice clever cover.
  • Slide 2: The process of innovation. One could start anywhere – as long as they make a complete circle through the steps:
  1. Empathy (of the user experience/problem).
  2. Define: Narrow it down, give it scope
  3. Ideate: Brainstorm 100 possible solutions
  4. Prototype: Do what you can real quick.
  5. Test: Put it in front of users – don’t continue to mull it over for months and months.
  • Slide 3:  Another way to look at this process is the repeated process of focusing and flaring. A good project leader knows when it is time to flare (come up with new ideas and get open) and focus (test, test, test).
  • Slide 4: Some good rules of thumb. My favorite: “Bias towards action.”

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