Monday, July 29, 2013

Thoughts on Reframing Roles, from Stanford's online Design Thinking Course

This summer, we're enjoying Stanford's online Design Thinking course and wanted to share these interesting thoughts on reframing the roles in which we see ourselves:

As we advance in our education and careers, we accumulate or change titles -student, graduate, intern, specialist, executive, manager, CEO. But, what are roles that, even if they are not part of your official title, we can play in an organization, company or community to foster a culture of innovation?
In his book “The Ten Faces of Innovation,” Tom Kelley, general manager of IDEO (*), describes the following roles:     

1. The Anthropologist

Anthropologists are constantly observing the world around them with a fresh eyes, and are capable of "seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one has thought." They are good at seeking inspiration from unusual sources, and reframing problems in new ways.

2. The Experimenter

Experimenters love to prototype and are creative gurus when it comes to using what is available to physically represent their ideas. Every stage of the ideation process can be prototyped so experimenters will usually be the first to suggest a prototype of a marketing or sales plan through acting out a storyboard or creating a short video.

3. The Cross-Pollinator

Cross-Pollinators draw associations between seemingly unrelated ideas, bringing in a stream of new content from other disciplines. Using a breadth of knowledge in many fields with a significant understanding in at least one field, cross-pollinators spark innovative hybrids.

4. The Hurdler

Hurdlers push through obstacles by viewing problems as opportunities. They take their passion for design and tie it with the passion to create things to help people so that when obstacles arise they are seen as opportunities rather than roadblocks. "The essence of a Hurdler is perseverance."

5. The Collaborator

Collaborators value the team over the individual, and act as facilitators that keep a constant flow of excitement and energy through a project team, while also providing the glue to bring together people from diverse backgrounds in order to make the perfect dream teams. With a huge heart, collaborators can always be counted on "to jump in when and where they are needed most."

6. The Director

Directors see the big picture and provide inspiration and empowerment to bring the best out of everyone in the organization. They keep the momentum constantly flowing by leading when it is needed and delegating when the time is right.

7. The Experience Architect

Experience Architects realize that there is no one method for every occasion; they are constantly designing experiences for every unique product or service. They keep their eyes open for "trigger points," which are the aspects of a product's design that need to be emphasized for the best possible experience.

8. The Set Designer

"Set Designers care about the intersection between space and human behavior." They adapt the physical space to balance private and collaborative work opportunities and to promote a culture of creativity. A Set Designer might be the team member prepared with markers and pens to create working spaces on the go.

9. The Caregiver

Caregivers, with big ears and big hearts, are always champions of empathizing with others. They are constantly listening to customers and take into consideration how ideas will affect their general audience.

10. The Storyteller

Storytellers understand that "stories persuade in a way that facts, reports and market trends seldom do, because stories make an emotional connection." Storytellers "capture our imagination with compelling narratives of initiative, hard work, and innovation." They not only transmit the values and goals of the organization or team, but they also make heroes out of real people.

As homework, we were asked to decide with which role we identify the most, and so we want to ask you the same. 

To learn more about Tom Kelley and The Art of Innovation, check out this video:

And what do you know? Tom and David Kelley of IDEO were at none other than the MIT Media Lab. Check out the talk they gave there here.