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Delivering Unsolicited Meaning: First They Ignore You...And Then You Win

Posted on: 4 nov 2012

First they ignore Mahatma Gandhi

What does usually happen when a design thinker delivers unsolicited meaning to an audience that is not prepared to understand nor listen to anything out of their system of knowledge?

First they ignore you, 

You'd probably find silence when sharing new ways of thinking about a situation and giving existing things new meaning.
Let's face it: Most of the innovations happen because mad designers and innovators are so stubborn! 

As a Design Thinking practitioner, I believe it's necessary to master a kind of passionate excitement about the "finding" of the idea or meaning, and the "fighting" for make it happen. It's a kind of "design thinking CORE" that, together with some others, make you say with security: 
“This is going to work”.This is the way to go. I know it.

Designers don't take a NO for an answer: It might seems at first they do, but it's just another designer's trick. It's a step back to reconsider a new strategy to try again, and again to make an idea HAPPEN. 

...Then they laugh at you, 

Too many professional still don´t know how to adapt to an ever-evolving business environment.

I understand that challenging the COMMON conceptual structure used in constructing theories is hard for both parts:

  • As the "challenger", you better be ready to a "your analysis has no rigor", and a few pity faces feeling sorry for you.
  • As the "challenged", please consider that rationality is necessary when analyzing any situation, but it's a part of the process of understanding, especially when trying to innovate and find meaning in a fuzzy problem.
This is why Design Thinkers are undergirded with hard-core analytical and a broader data gathering, that includes observation and sense making of society in general, people, technology, emotions and developing of insights. 
Most senior managers and CEOs would trust in strategic concepts and logical deductions based on their "logical data gathering": They use tools such as benchmarking, analytical data, etc., to arrive to solid conclusions. Executives construct theories using their rationality and their conceptual structure and culture. They come to conclusions that make a lot of sense for them because the sense they find is soooo similar of what they found last year, and the year before... only reinforces current knowledge and produces small improvements to the status quo. 

...Then they fight you, 

A Design Thinking approach challenges the 100% rational methods...and that is... scary?
For some analytical thinking professionals I guess it is. But it won't go away: It's a fact that there are experts (innovator, design thinkers, scientists) who are able to identify industry trends and important big ideas way ahead of the rest of the professionals and, even more important, designers know how to network with other "interpreters" – customers, suppliers, intermediaries, designers, artists - who understand and shape the markets they work in.

A new approach means redesign the business as they know it. I guess that is scary too.

...Then you win. 

The “This is going to work” is a fact...two years later, the average time leaders need to understand unsolicited meaning delivered by one of those mad designers two years before...the problem is that, sometimes, it's too late.

And just for the record: 
  1. Labelling people doesn't work anymore
  2. Better listen the “This is never going to work” 
  3. Some leaders just never get it....
  4. Any business can commit to successful design thinking

My inspirations to write this post:

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