Pattern: Design Thinking for Radical Innovation

Whether faced with a radical new idea or a big problem, Design Thinking can be used asa process for first brainstorming a robust list of solutions and then narrowing it down to the best possibilities for actual exploration

We have a big idea or a difficult problem that may change the business. There are possible solutions, but also many uncertainties.

In This Context

When faced with a problem, people typically spend only the minimum time required to find the first satisfactory solution, even if it’s not the best one or doesn’t involve all stakeholders. This leads to reasonable solutions, but misses the opportunity to find excellent ones.
• Law of preservation of cognitive energy leads people to choose the first good solution.
• Developers typically are decision makers on tech solutions.
• Devs aren’t trained in business or market forces.
• Elegance and beauty are also relevant for internal systems.


Take the basic first idea and run it through a series of divergent and convergent thinking exercises to rethink the idea’s boundaries and explore alternatives.Ideation/brainstorming is followed by application experiments. In-depth explanation of Design Thinking is beyond the scope of this pattern, but guidelines for running Design Thinking workshops can be found online 10 and many expert facilitators are available to run high-quality workshops.
• Create 10 to 20 new solutions/problems/ideas based on the first idea, narrow that list to the two to three best ones. Then expand and iterate these two to three bestones into 10 to 20 new possible variations, and then again choose two to three ofthe most promising to run longer experiments and choose to implement.
• Hold regular Design Thinking workshops.
• Use the workshops to refine big ideas/problems.
• Invite major stakeholders.
• Facilitate collaboration to help excellent solutions emerge.

Ideas are thoroughly explored. Cost of initial exploration is still low, as it requires little to no actual development (No Regret Moves).
- Too many people involved slows down the decision-making process.