Change By Design Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Change By Design makes you a better problem solver at every aspect of life by outlining the design thinking process that companies can use to innovate and improve.

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Change By Design Summary

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Do you remember the last great idea you had? Perhaps it came to you while in the shower. You may have rushed to finish get dried off and then excitedly jotted it down. But months later your notes sit there, unused. What if you could maintain your motivation by modifying the method that you use to implement your ideas? Well, there is!

That’s what Tim Brown explores in his book Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. You’ll discover how using design thinking will help you bring every aspect of the process together to successfully carry out your idea.

These are 3 of the most innovative ideas I got from this book:

  1. Look at inspiration, ideation, and implementation together to become great at design thinking.
  2. Build the prototype of your idea and begin testing as early as possible to help you encompass all areas of innovation at once.
  3. If you want to make your great new idea stick, use storytelling.

Put your thinking cap on and let’s learn how to use it to design something amazing!

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Lesson 1: Design thinking requires that you bring together the inspiration, ideation, and implementation phases of a project.

Most of us consider innovation to simply involve the invention of something new. It’s almost as if these two terms are synonymous. But this view makes it hard to get into the intricacies of the process that make it enjoyable and life-changing for mankind. 

For that, we need design thinking, which incorporates all aspects at once. When building a product, you’ll go through different phases multiple times. Instead of seeing them as separate and individual, look at all three together. 

We begin with the inspiration phase. This starts with thinking. It’s that moment in the shower when the lightning bolt hits and you begin considering the solution and its opportunities.

Next comes the ideation part of the journey, in which you look more to testing and developing the idea to make it even better.

Implementation is the last step. This is when you take your final product and introduce it to the world. 

Although the initial thought is to move smoothly through one phase at a time, in reality, no project does that. Most go through each part multiple times even! This is why design thinking is so powerful because it accounts for this from the beginning.

To make sure to integrate all components, keep feasibility, viability, and desirability in mind at each step. The Nintendo Wii is a good example of this. It was feasible and viable because it worked well, and it’s immersive experience made customers desire it.

Lesson 2: To get better at utilizing each step all at once, prototype as early as possible.

I used to love playing with LEGOs. I would spend hours constructing sets and building my own creations. My ideas for new combinations of pieces always went best when just started building and then figured it out as I went.

But today we tend to spend too long in the planning phase. It may take years for some projects to get to prototyping. Thinking is important, but when you can do it while building your model, that’s when the real magic happens. It makes getting results for what works and what doesn’t a whole lot faster.

When you build first and think as you go, you get more ideas for how to improve the thing as you go. Many limitations and opportunities are hidden until you can actually see a mock-up of the product in real life. That’s why you need to start prototyping from the start!

It might look simple and ugly at first, but the benefits are worth it. The initial prototype of Apple’s first mouse, for example, was only a plastic butter dish and the ball from a roll-on deodorant. 

You need to find out how people will use your idea once you have your prototype, so begin testing early. This will let you know what people will try doing with it, which will help you see new opportunities. It will also tell you if it will even work!

But the main reason testing early like this is so powerful is that it perfectly incorporates all three aspects of the design process at once. You get inspired with new ideas from seeing a mock-up. Ideation happens from the testing itself. And you get to see if it’s even viable by practicing implementation.

Lesson 3: Make sure to involve stories at every stage to help get your idea to stick with people.

As a kid, I loved hearing the Harry Potter books that my teachers and parents read to me. Even now I really enjoy a good adventure in a movie or book. We all do, don’t we? This is part of human nature and something you need to utilize when working with ideas.

If you want to become a good design thinker, help users relate to your product with stories. The best way to do this is to look at the steps you took to make it and how customers will use it throughout its lifetime.

Even from the very beginning, you can involve the customer. Prototyping is one way to do this, as we’ve seen. But sometimes it even works to share your process of coming up with the idea in the first place, or the origins of the product. 

One company put a code on every piece of clothing it sold. Buyers could use this to track the wool inside a jacket to its beginnings. Even all the way to the very farm that the sheep are taken care of!

Another example is what would become the predecessor of GPS systems. The company that built the product shared a story of a sailor to help customers relate to it. They talked about each problem he had along his journey and identified the features of the product as the solutions to the obstacles.

Change By Design Review

Change By Design has important information for any business, including service-based ones and especially writers. The applications here are endless and I believe anyone can benefit by applying these principles!

Who would I recommend the Change By Design summary to?

The 37-year-old mechanical engineer that would like to start their own company and wants to learn how to prepare, the 59-year-old executive that wants to find ways to foster more innovative thinking in their business, and anyone that wants to get better at problem-solving.

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.