One Design Thinking Tip You Can Use Right Now

November 27, 2012 — 3 Comments

thoughtless acts 132 580px

Design thinking has its origins in the training and the professional practice of designers. Yet, these are principles that can be practiced by everyone and extended to every field of activity.

If you’re ready to start designing your life here’s one design thinking tip from Change By Design you can use right now:

Once a Day, Deeply Observe the Ordinary.
Good design thinkers observe. Great design thinkers observe the ordinary.

Make it a rule that at least once a day you will stop and take a second look at some ordinary situation that you would normally look at only once (or not at all)—as if you were a detective at a crime scene. Be curious about the familiar things we normally take for granted. Why are manhole covers round? Why is my teenager heading off to school dressed like that? How do I know how far back I should stand from the person in front of me in line?

If we immerse ourselves in what Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison call “the Super-Normal,” we can gain uncanny insights into the unwritten rules that guide us through life.

Try it today. What did you observe?

Image from Thoughtless Acts / IDEO

(posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Tim Brown


3 responses to One Design Thinking Tip You Can Use Right Now

  1. Who cares about manhole covers…anyway?
    Here is my daily muse – I have found in over 25 years consulting globally to business leaders, that we are always looking to technology to re-wire what’s wrong or missing in our organizations. When in fact, if we only looked across the table and talked openly with our colleagues about what drives their behavior and then tell them what drives ours, I know that clarity results and that mutual goals are developed and agreed. Full stop.

    Now..back to the manhole covers.

  2. For me observation without recording is just looking… Recording (sketching) my observations helps formalise them in my own mind for future mental reference. My sketch books have become my own ‘idea cards’

  3. I stopped to consider why a newly-painted apartment complex looked so German, sitting in a dilapidated DC neighborhood… not sure, but color-blocking pattern and 3 sparse colors chosen do seem to say “80’s” and “Europe” and “east Berlin” somehow… sometimes this noticing of the ordinary can turn into the Association game that never ends!
    And I will try manhole covers next.

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