Focus on the Principles, not the Examples

We all use examples to explain our ideas. Design thinkers, for example, describe their concepts by generalizing them into principles. In other words, they try to understand the meaning behind the examples. What motivates the customer? What does he or she feel? Cultivating this ability to draw inferences from your customer observations is critical to successful design thinking.

Not being able to look beyond a principle’s application is a huge creative blocker because, like most people, organizations copy tactics. To think outside the box, innovation practitioners need to be able to distinguish between principles and tactics, explains Jorge Barba in this thought-provoking article.

Game-changing strategies don’t come out of template style thinking. There isn’t a fill-in-the-blank document that will help you come up with game-changing ideas. If you want to take a design-based approach, think about the principles behind your customer observations. Then look beyond your current domain for examples of others who have solved similar problems, based upon the same principles. This kind of abstraction may lead you to the breakthrough you’re looking for.

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