Design thinking and better business: "challenge assumed constraints"

At Proctor & Gamble, a "design thinking facilitation team" is having a big impact on the company, according to new article at BusinessWeek. This passage appealed:

'Once business leaders see they can use design thinking to reframe problems, they are transformed,' says [marketing director for Proctor&Gamble Global Design Cindy] Tripp. 'The analytical process we typically use to do our work—understand the problem and alternatives; develop several ideas; and do a final external check with the customer—gets flipped. Instead, design thinking methods instruct: There's an opportunity somewhere in this neighborhood; use a broader consumer context to inform the opportunity; brainstorm a large quantity of fresh ideas; and co-create and iterate using low-resolution prototypes with that consumer.'

In his new book, The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation, P&G CEO A.G. Lafley explains the difference between the two methods: 'Business schools tend to focus on inductive thinking (based on directly observable facts) and deductive thinking (logic and analysis, typically based on past evidence),' he writes. 'Design schools emphasize abductive thinking—imagining what could be possible. This new thinking approach helps us challenge assumed constraints and add to ideas, versus discouraging them.'

That last sentence reminded me of a Rotman business school article, also linked by Putting People First, about developing the "opposable business mind," a way of thinking that seeks to build on business possibility rather than business constraint.


Wikipedia: abductive reasoning