Discovering desire lines: How to break down barriers and let paths emerge

The story is told like this: A university constructs several new buildings on its campus. But rather than build sidewalks between buildings, they plant grass, let people walk, and wait. Pedestrians choose the most efficient paths–and over time the lines worn in the grass reveal where sidewalks should be.

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Change By Design–How to put design thinking to work

Design is too powerful to be used by designers alone. This is the essential idea behind the theory of design thinking–applying the principles and techniques of design to help organizations innovate, solve problems, and create positive change.

Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, should know. His new book, Change By Design, is about how Design Thinking works, and how design consultancy IDEO has put design thinking to work in organizations around the world. The book provides a useful, comprehensive overview on the power and value of design thinking.

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Where design thinking and open source community collaboration meet

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I’m currently reading the new book on design thinking from IDEO’s Tim Brown called Change By Design. (Full review coming soon.) The design thinking philosophy was first introduced to me, and to Red Hat throughout the company, by David Burney.

In comparing traits associated with design thinking collaboration and collaboration in the open source community, there are many parallels: open exchange, broad participation, rapid prototyping.

There’s also one really interesting contrast: The mindset you tend to see when generating and choosing ideas. But what I’ll suggest here is that when you apply the best elements of these two mindsets at just the right time in their respective processes, the results can be pretty amazing.
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Looking both ways

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I took this photo on a late afternoon in London a day before New Year’s Eve 2003. It had just stopped raining, and I’d rushed out with my camera to take as many photos as I could in the last few minutes of light. I was probably doing a lot more shooting than looking. I guess this sign found me.

The sign reminds pedestrians that traffic is coming from both directions rather than just one. And if you’re from the US or other parts of the world where we don’t drive on the left, that direction might not be the one you expect. You learn quickly.

But since then this photo has reminded me that there is always more than one way to look at a problem. Our environments change. Our tools change. Our attitudes change. If we insist on looking at an issue in only one way, we will never see the unexpected connections and associations that make real breakthroughs possible.

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