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Design and Complex Systems in Healthcare + Design and Management with Kipum Lee — DT101 E119

Kip Lee is a designer and healthcare executive at University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland, OH. As Vice President of UH Ventures, he manages an innovation portfolio that supports University Hospitals’ strategic initiatives and partnerships through product innovation and human-centered design. Outside of work, Kip serves on the editorial board of Design Issues, a design and innovation journal published by MIT Press. He also serves on several nonprofit boards. We talk about systems and design in healthcare.

Portrait of Kipum Lee

Listen to Learn About

  • Complex systems
  • Design in healthcare
  • What is the role of management?
  • The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on healthcare innovation
  • The interplay between design and management

Our Guest

Kipum (Kip) Lee, PhD is a designer and healthcare executive at University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland, OH. As Vice President of UH Ventures, he manages an innovation portfolio that supports University Hospitals’ strategic initiatives and partnerships through product innovation and human-centered design. Outside of work, he serves as an editor of Design Issues, the premier journal on design history, theory, criticism, and practice published by MIT Press, and on several non-profit boards. In addition to playing with his two kids, Kip loves used hardcover books, freshly ground coffee, low-humidity weather, and a good conversation.

Show Highlights

[01:26] Kip’s journey into design began with a love of drawing and visualization at a very early age.
[02:36] Experiencing the New Jersey Governor’s School of the Arts during high school.
[04:11] Kip talks about cultural expectations and how that affected his choices as he entered university.
[05:09] Why Kip chose bioengineering as an undergrad.
[06:20] A brief time in architecture as a graduate student.
[07:47] Carnegie Mellon’s interaction design program.
[08:27] Kip’s revelation while attending the U.S.’s first ever service design conference.
[09:40] The course that made Kip fall in love with learning again.
[10:41] How Kip’s studies in architecture and bioengineering have come full circle in his current work in healthcare.
[13:51] Designing in complex systems.
[14:00] Kip uses the military and warfare as another example of a complex system.
[15:38] Looking at healthcare as a complex system.
[16:54] Kip offers a pre-pandemic example of the challenges that arose in implementing a new technology.
[18:26] Difficulties that can arise with terminology and in how language is used.
[19:21] Vaccine hesitancy vs. vaccine readiness.
[21:48] Complex systems are multidimensional, and aesthetics is often just as important as the technical.
[23:02] Kip offers an example using PPE/masks during the pandemic to show why aesthetics matters.
[26:06] The complexities involved in shaping and influencing people’s behaviors and choices.
[31:16] Dawan brings up the idea of shifting management more into performance facilitation rather than control.
[32:43] A Miro Moment.
[34:01] Kip likes Henry Mintzberg’s idea of management as “controlled chaos,” maintaining the balance between exploration, freedom, and a sense of order.
[35:43] The need for c-suite execs to stay grounded in the actual front line work of the organization.
[36:46] Designers as rebels.
[37:05] Kip talks about parallel developments in both design and management.
[38:43] What can designers learn from management?
[41:33] How the pandemic helped healthcare innovation.
[42:55] Good designers and good managers both work to create the environment where healthy and exciting interactions and projects can take place.
[44:46] Service design’s uniqueness as a discipline.
[47:09] The desire to serve is an essential aspect of what it means to be a designer.
[47:39] Bruno Latour’s benefits of design.
[49:03] Many things that are aspects of design are also aspects of management.
[51:10] Designers and managers are often doing the same work.
[51:37] Dawan talks about shifting from “solutions” to “responses.”
[54:28] Systems have histories and memories.
[57:14] Kip offers thoughts and advice for others who want to apply their design skills in the healthcare industry.
[01:04:15] Kip’s last words about the design field as a whole.


Kip on Twitter
Kip on LinkedIn
Kip on Google Scholar
Kip on University Hospitals Ventures
Kip on ResearchGate
TEDx CLE, Master Builders for the 21st Century
Critique of Design Thinking in Organizations: Strongholds and Shortcomings of the Making Paradigm
Hack from Home | Discovering Problems in Our Dwelling Place: A Design Thinking Approach
Designing for Value in Specialty Referrals: A New Framework for Eliminating Defects and Wicked Problems, by Patrick Runnels, Heather Wobbe, Kipum Lee, Randy Jernejcic, and Peter Pronovost

Book Recommendations

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell
The Systems Approach and Its Enemies, by C. West Churchman
The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action, by Donald Schön
A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design (with Special Attention to Peter Sloterdijk), keynote lecture from Bruno Latour

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Healthcare Innovation + Nursing + Opportunities for Designers — DT101 E109
A Designer’s Journey into Designing for Health and Healthcare with Lorna Ross — DT101 E45
Service Design in Healthcare Inside Multiple Business Contexts with Jessica Dugan — DT101 E22

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