All posts by Jeff Shelton

Episode 4 — Design Thinking

In this episode, we discuss “design thinking,” a problem-solving approach that is now applied in business and education, as well as in the creation of new products and services. We talk with Jim Tappel, a professor at the University of Cincinnati and former IDEO employee, about how engineers might best coexist with, or even embrace, this approach to discovering new solutions.

  • Jeff once used the intro and outro music of a Dire Straits song, Industrial Disease, in the background of a video featuring a robotic gripper he had designed.
  • Jim is currently involved with Cooperative Education at the University of Cincinnati. At a previous point in his career, Jim worked for the well-known design firm, IDEO.
  • An article that tells designers to excite engineers with performance issues is The Key to Sustainable Product Creation: The Marriage of Engineering and Design.
  • Tracy Kidder’s book, The Soul of a New Machine is referenced by Jim as documenting one corporation’s willingness to fail.
  • A series of increasingly capable robots from the movie, “The Incredibles,” is noted by Chris; he is probably thinking of the Omnidroids?
  • Swiss watch manufacturers thought outside the box in creating Swatch watches.
  • “Design Thinking” covers a broad swath of ideas, as evidenced by its entry in Wikipedia.
  • Eddie Obeng has written about “foggy” projects in his book New Rules for the New World: Cautionary Tales for the New World Manager. Such efforts lack a clear objective, and the existence of any workable solution is uncertain.
  • Jeff mentions a book by the CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown: Change by Design.
  • We learn about the importance of “kiss off” and “suck back” in making toothpaste enticing to consumers.
  • Jim estimates that when coming up with new ideas, the success rate is about 2%; it takes the courage to generate a lot of mediocre and bad concepts to find a winning solution.
  • In reference to a Dan Saffer video about design thinking, Jim notes that there is more to the methodology than putting a whole bunch of post-it notes up on the wall.

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Thanks to Dawn D for the photograph from Design 2020.