A rare look into how design thinking looks and functions, and displays how it can be utilized to drive innov" />

Change By Design

A rare look into how design thinking looks and functions, and displays how it can be utilized to drive innovation.

A review of Tim Brown’s book, Change By Design

To give some background of the author, Tim Brown is the president and CEO of IDEO—a design and innovation consulting firm. IDEO works on a highly diverse range of projects from the Elmo Calls iPhone app all of the way to the development of Bank of America’s Keep the Change savings program. At their heart, IDEO embodies and defines design thinking which is best described by Tim as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation

Change by Design is a rare look into how design thinking looks and functions, and displays how it can be utilized to drive innovation. Tim explains the danger of only pursuing incremental innovation which most organizations do, and then outlines how organizations can develop a structure and dynamic in which risk, experimentation, creativity, and ultimately, revolutionary ideas can flourish.

“Those who went to business school were taught many effective techniques for what I would call convergent thinking, which is taking the set of available choices, analyzing those choices, and making the best one that then gets implemented. Now, that’s great for taking an existing world and optimizing it. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to create new innovations, there’s another piece you need to put in front of that. And that is the creation of those choices themselves because if you’re just looking at the same set of choices as everybody else is looking at, you’re likely to get to the same innovations that they are. However, if you can create new choices, choices that nobody else is looking at—that nobody else is seeing—there’s a pretty strong chance you can get to an innovation that nobody else has gotten to.”— Tim Brown

Throughout the book there are many graphs which visually depict Tim’s concepts, below is one of my favorites which shows the three types of innovation: Incremental, evolutionary, and revolutionary as they relate to an organization’s market and offerings.


Why I enjoyed this book

Change by Design was extremely easy to read, well structured, and very engaging. The entire book uses IDEO case studies as examples which gives you an interesting look into the some of their projects that you won’t find on their website. With that being said, using their own projects as examples was reassuring in the sense that the details were accurate and you’re able to receive better insight compared to when an author samples a project they weren’t involved with.

Should you read this book?

There are two people that may potentially read this book: a designer or someone that’s high up in an organization. For the designer, I would recommend reading this book, and for the person with or in charge of an organization I would consider this book a must read.

For designers, it’ll make you rethink what exactly design is, and it’ll help you gain a better understanding of the design process at large. It’ll dare and excite you to take risks and pursue new challenges. This book can ultimately help you recognize your worth as a designer and your credibility to be sitting in and helping to make decisions at board meeting.

For those involved with an organization, it’ll shift your perception and help you recognize the vital role of design. It’ll challenge you, and the rest of the organization, to become design thinkers. It will make you rethink how your organization is currently structured. If you’re interested in creating a thriving and engaged atmosphere that fosters innovation, then this book is what you need to push you in the right direction.

Closing thoughts

With Change by Design, Tim is trying to create a dialog around design, one which gives design thinking to the world and makes the design and creative process accessible to anyone. What I absolutely love about this book is that it takes the pretentiousness and the elitist attitude out of design as an artform, and instead treats design as a verb—creating the opportunity to address and solve world problems.