Our “yes, and…” response that builds on thinking about design mentality and the success of Michigan businesses in a recent Michigan Radio opinion piece. Tom De Vries, co-founder of Thoughtfull, a strategic design firm based in Grand Rapids, proposes that “Michigan needs to break away from its old habits that lead to consumer objectification and unacceptable failure rates in new products and services. ‘Old habits die hard,’ but businesses in Michigan, led by an active and engaged design community, can lead us into the new economy.”
Design Thinking in K-12 Education Empowers Innovators
There’s a really important connection drawn in this opinion piece between user-focused designs and business innovation. But it’s not just current designers who can be a part of the solution. K-12 education can and should play a role as well. At HFLI, we are working to empower K-12 students — our future workforce — with Design Thinking skills, tools, and mindsets so they can develop user-centered solutions to challenges they encounter in the workplace, their community, and their personal lives. Design Thinking is integrated in the curriculum at our Henry Ford Academies in Detroit; students as young as kindergarten participate in multiple Design Thinking challenges each year and through cycles of empathy, defining the problem, ideating, prototyping, feedback and reflection, they develop potential solutions to a problem experienced by a particular user. We believe that with their “design mentality” these innovative thinkers will contribute mightily to their future workplaces.
We are thankful to Tom De Vries and Michigan Radio for shining a light on the importance of keeping the user at the center of solutions design and innovation.