Monthly Archives: June 2010

Learning Cycles and Design Thinking

I am reading Roger Martin‘s excellent book The Design of Business.  He talks about the need for companies to move through the knowledge funnel.  His knowledge funnel moves from


 mystery (asking what might be), to heuristic (discovery) and finally to algorithm (or repeatabili

ty).  Moving through the knowledge funnel requires the user to practice abductive reasoning, which is described as asking what “might be” as opposed to “what is”.

I found it very interesting that many of the same topics found in Roger Martin’s method also found their way into our book.  In Innovative Lean Development, Mark Swets and I talk about heuristic problem solving, and how to set up learning cycles to move from general ideas to something more concrete for the customer.   We showed our own learning cycle funnel.

Why is the concept of the funnel so important?  The concept is to have many ideas, or options, available to the team up front, and then weed them out.  The team will also refine requirements, moving from general ones to

more specific.   But, for the activity in the learning cycle, the team must have a structured way to create value and find the optimal solution.  Using learning cycle exposes the gaps in the product or solution space.  Learning cycles help to outline the questions and then focus the team’s direction in that ar

ea.  Learning cycles  become a tool to move from concept

s (mystery) through the other two phases of insight driven heuristics and algorithm .  The team can use learning cycles to expose the gaps in the problem, refining both the requirements and the product design.

Tim.

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