Where Science Meets Muse

Design Thinking and Innovation – Are you Willing to Question?

Posted by Plish on March 25, 2010

I was recently watching a snippet on America’s Funniest Home Videos. There was a young boy and his older sister sitting on the lap of Santa. Santa was telling them to study hard, that to be successful there weren’t any shortcuts.

The young boy quickly retorted, “Yeah, but if there were shortcuts, what would they look like?”

Ahh, out of the mouths of babes…

The path of innovative design beings in this way.  On the one hand you have someone espousing some bit of commonly accepted wisdom:

“There are no shortcuts to success.”

“For this product to be successful it needs to have ‘xyzpdq’.”

“There will never be a need for that much memory in a computer.”

“To have an impact you need to have an MBA”

On the other hand you have the dreamers, the questioners – the re-framers.  These are people who don’t see problems as obstacles but as the byproducts of poorly framed, or inadequately understood, challenges.

This boy took the first step in creating a shortcut to success – he asked what it would look like and in so doing, forced us to imagine a shortcut to success.

We have two choices in responding. We can cling to the common line that knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there simply are no shortcuts to success. The rewards for following this common knowledge are, well…common.


We can entertain the notion that there are shortcuts to success. We can imagine what its traits might be, we can dream and explore that world that lies behind doors that have been closed and locked by blackened chains of conventional wisdom.

Some will call this a waste of time.

Others, will embrace this process (which is fundamental to design thinking and innovation), the rewards of which are uncommon and yet obvious to those who truly seek to design innovation in the world.


3 Responses to “Design Thinking and Innovation – Are you Willing to Question?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Plishka. Michael Plishka said: Design Thinking and Innovation – Are you Willing to Question?: http://wp.me/pkQcg-v0 […]

  2. Rob Jacobs said

    I think this idea is extremely important for students and learners. Often there is an easier way, a short cut, to find information, solve a problem, etc. We must let students and learners explore these possibilities and make these discoveries. Often, just knowing that the short cut exists can be a powerful creative and innovative driver for students.

  3. Plish said

    Rob, Great point about the fact that just knowing shortcuts are there can be a driver for innovation. It is indeed about discovery and exploration!
    Thanks for the insights!

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