Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey with Karen Hold — DT101 E71

This is the first DT101 Books episode. Karen Hold joins us on the show to talk about Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey, a book she co-authored with Jeanne Liedtka and Jessica Eldridge.

In DT101 Books episodes, authors explore why their book exists and what it will help you do. Each book is chosen because it has something that will help you think and solve like a designer as you learn, lead and apply design thinking.

Our Guest and Her Co-Authors

Jeanne Liedtka is a faculty member at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. Her Columbia Business School Publishing books include Designing for Growth: A Manager’s Toolkit (2011) and Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector (2017).Portrait of Karen Hold

Karen Hold is the founder of Experience Labs, an innovation consulting firm. She is also the director of DT:DC, a design thinking community in Washington, DC, and a visiting professor at École des Ponts Business School in Paris, France.

Jessica Eldridge is a consultant working at the intersection of educational equity and purposeful innovation. She is a specialist in design thinking, innovation management, and cross-sector collaboration.

About Experiencing Design: The Innovator’s Journey

In daylong hackathons, design thinking seems deceptively easy. On the surface, it involves a set of seemingly simple activities such as gathering data, identifying insights, generating ideas, prototyping, and experimentation. But practiced at a superficial level, even great design tools don’t go deep enough to create the shifts in mindset and skill set that are required to achieve transformational impact.

Going deep with design requires more than changing the activities of innovators; it involves creating the conditions that shape who they become. Individuals become design thinkers by experiencing design.

Drawing on decades of researching and teaching design thinking to people not trained in design, Jeanne Liedtka, Karen Hold, and Jessica Eldridge offer a guide for how to create these deep experiences at each stage of the design thinking journey, whether for an individual, a team, or an organization.

For each experience phase, they specify the mindset shifts and competencies that need to be achieved, describe how different personality types experience different kinds of journeys, and show how to fully leverage the diversity of teams. Experiencing Design explores both the science and practicalities of design and includes two assessment instruments for individual and organizational development.

Ultimately, innovators need to be someone new to create something new. This book shows you how to use design thinking to make this happen.

Show Highlights

[00:56] Dawan muses on trying to come up with a name for the podcast book episodes.
[01:06] Michael Silverblatt as the one and only Bookworm.
[02:07] Karen talks about the ideas and discussions that started the book-writing process.
[02:51] Igniting the design spark (or not!) in the people she works with.
[04:57] The book is for those already familiar with, and using, design thinking.
[06:05] It’s intended to help design thinking users deepen their practice.
[07:25] Different personality types experience design and design thinking differently.
[08:11] Karen, Jeanne, and Jessica developed four Innovator Personalities.
[08:20] You have to become someone new to make something new.
[08:54] Karen gives an example from her time on the brand team at Folgers during the rise of Starbucks.
[10:15] Quantitative versus qualitative research.
[10:48] Biases in decision making.
[13:47] Insights and sensemaking occurs gradually and purposefully.
[15:04] Sensemaking involves learning from perspectives that are not our own.
[18:00] The book provides a set of Minimum Viable Competencies (MVCs) – behaviors and indicators that help designers gauge skill and mindset improvement.
[19:00] Karen discusses some of the MVCs found in the book.
[20:00] Observation versus interpretation.
[21:33] Double-loop learning.
[22:00] Becoming too attached to one point of view and closing off.
[23:16] MVCs are skills that people can improve with time, training, and use.
[24:47] The book offers the reader an entire section on creating a personal development plan
[26:45] A digital tool to help readers develop their plan is in beta-test and will be available soon.
[28:13] The development plan process also works for teams within an organization.
[30:30] Some of the surprises that appeared during the writing journey.
[30:43] The tale of how the title of the book changed at the last minute.
[35:12] Karen talks about working with her co-authors, and her shift from learner to sharer.
[36:58] Missing the daily learning that happened during the writing of the book.
[38:14] The intense focus that happened during, and even because of, the pandemic.
[38:54] The shift to working virtually.
[40:03] The science behind the “A-ha! moment.”
[41:55] Why Karen makes sure that her workshops now have an overnight in between activities.
[42:45] The difference between ordinary and expert intuition.
[44:03] The hope Karen has for those who read the book.
[46:00] Fluid Hive’s resources for those wanting to learn and practice design thinking.


Order your copy of Experiencing Design

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

From Branding to Design + Teaching Design Teams + Leading Summer of Design with Karen Hold — DT101E13

Designing for the Greater Good, Strategy + Design Thinking, and Measuring Design Thinking with Jeanne Liedtka — DT101 E1

Design Thinking at Work + Three Tensions Designers Navigate with David Dunne — DT101 E23

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Cheers ~ Dawan

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Resources — Thinking and Solving Like a Designer


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Sample pages from inside Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield


Download Fluid Hive's Innovation Shield: a guide to avoiding innovation traps by asking 9 of Fluid Hive's Design Thinking Questions.

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