On Tuesday October 1st, the TIDES 2013 Demo kicked off with their week-long speaker series. LT Anne Gibbons provided an enthusiastic and creative workshop-style program that engaged the audience and pushed their creativity to discuss, “Design Thinking in Building Capacity.” Design thinking is the ability to utilize creativity to enact change where creativity and innovation are lacking in the design process.
Beginning with an icebreaker activity called the “name circle” in which all participants introduce themselves by saying their name accompanied with a flourish of the hand, LT Gibbons combined physical movement with meeting people to facilitate discussion. She commented on the hesitation to interact with one’s neighbors and how this limits creativity and innovation. Gibbons continued the workshop by breaking up attendees into groups of “users” and “sellers” of products to demonstrate how facilitated discussion can lead to new ideas and better ways of procedure.
Gibbons focused her speech on the Department of Defense cultural tendency to define procedures in order to address all situations. She mentioned that their attempt to quarantine chaos ultimately limits creativity and effectiveness in problem solving. To challenge this institutional norm, she said that first one must identify their world view to understand the lens with which they see the problem. Only then can one begin to implement design thinking into problem solving. This logic of starting with self-understanding and then working to understand others was apparent in her following group exercise. Identifying participants as “sellers” or “users,” she broke participants into small groups to find new ways for “sellers” products to be useful to a particular “user’s” need. “Sellers” consisted of vendors who were demonstrating at the demo while “users” were those in attendance visiting the demo. (For example, a “seller” would ask how a student or “user” would benefit by using a solar cooker.) By experiencing the process of design thinking, not only were conversations particularly interesting but it also helped to evaluate how technologies displayed at the demo could be innovated further. Some participants even shared how they could merge their technologies in order to be left with a better product.
LT Gibbons stressed the importance of challenging the military to confront out-of-date procedure with originality, creativity, imagination and innovation in their thinking. One participant noted that this form of thinking is a central tenant to many companies design processes. By the end of the discussion people were more aware of how to reach their creative potential and looked forward to incorporating it more into their endeavors.
Amy Gorman is a Research Analyst (Contractor) for the TIDES project at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy in National Defense University
Brianna Isabelle was a TIDES Intern from Aug-Dec 2013 at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy in National Defense University