Inside the Design Thinking Process

Posted on December 15th, 2009 by Kelley Luckstein

The Aspen Design Summit brought together 60 top executives to apply design thinking to large social problems…

 

The 64 invited attendees…rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Divided into five groups, each team was tasked with coming up with a solution to a specific problem. To try to prevent participants from being creative but impractical, the organizers told us our solutions needed to include a clear plan of action, with a goal of implementation within 24 months…

 

I was on the Mayo Clinic team, with two representatives from the Clinic's Center for Innovation to explain the somewhat daunting brief: to design a new health-care system for Austin, Minn., a town of some 24,000 residents whose main claim to fame is being the home of Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam. Previous Mayo Clinic research had shown that the city's health-care system was inadequate and fragmented, a situation common in rural communities around the U.S…

 

Later, Maggie Breslin, senior designer and researcher at the Center for Innovation at Mayo Clinic, reassured me that the process was more important than the product. "I don't necessarily think what will move forward is the specific idea laid out for Austin in Aspen," she said on the phone a few weeks after the group members had gone their separate ways. "But whether it ends up as a Web site with video is less important to me than the idea that people need a way to engage in multiple places within their community. You have to get to the detail to understand the larger principle—and then throw out the detail and keep that larger principle." Now working on synthesizing the clinic's own on-the-ground research from Austin with the Aspen insights, Breslin says that Mayo's focus will be to build a networked community of services for the area.

 

BusinessWeek by Helen Walters, 12/14/09

Tags: Center for Innovation, Innovation (Center of)

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