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Design Thinking in Practice: a conversation between Allen Higgins & Dawan Stanford — DT101 E115

Allen Higgins joins me as we share host and guest roles to talk about design practice systems and creating for and with the people we serve. Alan is a research associate and lecturer in the Center for Innovation Technology and Organization in the School of Business at University College Dublin..

Portrait of Allen Higgins

Listen to Learn About

  • Design and design thinking process
  • Design thinking mindset
  • How to introduce design thinking to teams and organizations
  • What is innovation?
  • Design Justice and ethical design

Our Guest

Allen Higgins is a researcher/lecturer in the Management Information Systems subject area in the UCD College of Business—University College Dublin, Ireland. He is a member of the UCD Centre for Innovation, Technology and Organization (CITO) and the UCD Centre for Business and Society.

Show Highlights

[00:39] Script is flipped! Dawan talks about how he got into design thinking.
[02:14] Launching Fluid Hive in 2008.
[02:38] Allen’s interest came while developing a course for university.
[04:48] Allen and Dawan compare how they approach design thinking
[06:46] The big question: What problem are we trying to solve?
[08:30] Finding the problem is the real problem.
[09:30] IDEO as people’s first introduction to design thinking.
[10:05] There is no single recipe for innovation.
[10:40] Experienced designers are comfortable with ambiguity.
[11:32] It’s hard to change our view of the world.
[12:09] Designers can see the world in multiple ways.
[14:08] The difference between reaction and response.
[15:55] The answer to the question should take you from the world you have to the world you want.
[17:57] Failure is part of the process. Failure is actually learning.
[20:56] A design thinking culture values continual learning.
[22:06] Part of bringing design thinking to organizations is speaking the language of that organization.
[23:53] Dawan and Allen talk about making design thinking part of organizational culture.
[25:27] Inviting people into learning and using design thinking.
[27:04] Allen talks about innovation, and the hospitality metaphor.
[29:42] Allen offers an example of a case study where an organization was introducing large-scale change to its systems.
[31:42] Designing with the people who will implement and support the solution in mind.
[32:40] Dawan’s preferred definition of innovation.
[35:47] The world we have, and the world we want.
[37:05] Best intentions, and the need for design justice.
[37:47] The racism (and sexism) in AI image generators.
[38:47] The systems we design often reinforce societal bias.
[44:11] Doug Dietz’s MRI story TED Talk.
[45:50] Ethical design.
[46:31] The concept of the “user” in design.
[47:01] The difficulty with personas.
[48:25] Indi Young’s mental models for user behavior.
[49:24] Focusing on why and how people decide instead of empathy.
[50:32] “Nothing about us without us”: co-creating with the people you’re designing for.
[52:27] You are not your user.
[54:01] Giving everyone access to the tools of design and design thinking.
[56:26] Designing for accessibility.
[1:02:19] Allen and Dawan end the conversation by talking about empathy vs. sympathy.


Allen on LinkedIn
Allen on Google Scholar
Allen on University College Dublin
Allen on ResearchGate
The Design Talk podcast
Transforming healthcare for children and their families: Doug Dietz at TEDxSanJoseCA

Book Recommendations

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs, by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn
Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior, by Indi Young

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

How to Learn Design Thinking + Design Thinking Pedagogy with Julie Schell — DT101 E15
Launching and Leading a University-wide Design Thinking Initiative with Danielle Lake — DT101 E31
Systemic Service Design + a Critical Lens on Design Practice with Josina Vink — DT101 E85

Tell me how the show helps you.

Photo of Dawan Stanford

Your ideas support and develop the show. Tell the world how the Design Thinking 101 Podcast has helped you think and solve like a designer. Then, tell me how I might make it even more helpful.

Cheers ~ Dawan

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