Sunday, August 14, 2016

Optimism, Brains, Heart and Courage

Off to see the Wizard
At the core of Design Thinking is a fundamental realty about humans; Our perceptions of and responses to the world are shaped by our physical and psychological natures and memories. This plays out every day in a variety of ways. Our three part brains interpret and respond to our external environment, but we also imagine things in the past, present or future and create new ideas from the feelings, thoughts, words and images stored in our memories and then act on them in ways that depend on how fearful we are about the outcome.

Back in July of 2013, Tom and David Kelley spoke about Design Thinking at the MIT Media Lab. Two and a half minutes into the clip (below) David Kelley says something fascinating.  You have to listen carefully, because Dave moves from a reference to barriers that block, to fear of being judged by other people, very quickly;

Here is David's statement with the verbal side slip edited out;

"We thought we'd have to teach them things and we don't. We only have to remove the... fear of being judged by other people. As we take that down, this wild creativity emerges."

Remove fear to enable wild creativity. Is it really just that simple?

Dr. Bruce Perry explains that when people are frightened, the "intelligent" thinking parts of their brains cease to dominate out actions. When faced with a threat, the brain areas responsible for risk assessment and planned action cease to function. Logical thinking is overwhelmed by emotion and, as your sense of time collapses, you shift to short-term solutions and quick reactions. That's not a prescription for creative thought and action.

This has tremendous implications regarding understanding the power of Design Thinking and leads us to a mashup between your 3Part Brain and the Wizard of Oz.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

The story of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz chronicles the adventures of an optimistic young farm girl named Dorothy in the magical utopian Land of Oz, after she and her pet dog Toto are swept away from their peaceful Kansas home and thrown into ambiguity by the chaos of a cyclone.  In a later book in the Oz series the author, L. Frank Baum, wrote;

"Imaginations and dreams are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent and, therefore, to foster civilization."

The Straw Man, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion and Dorothy were seeking a brain, a heart, courage and a family (team). Combining what we know about how your three brains work with Baum & Kelley's observations about imagination, having courage (overcoming fear) and collaboration and you have the key ingredients for the problem solving recipe taught at Stanford's (Design Thinking) a problem solving approach being widely adopted for its ability to deliver results which border on utopian magic.
Bringing it all together

There is one more aspect to this which shouldn't be overlooked. Successful recipes are more than just a list of ingredients, they are descriptions of what to do but more importantly, how to do it. This is where storytelling comes in. Knowing Who, What, Why, When and Where sets the stage. Knowing and showing HOW makes the difference between delivering the results of a novice and an expert, differentiates theory and practice and distinguishes the Monday Morning quarterbacks from the pros.

And that will be the starting point of our next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment