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Category: Mindsets

Design thinking at MuseumNext 2014: my five big takeaways

I recently returned from the MuseumNext conference in Newcastle, England, where I gave a talk, "From Insights to Prototypes: How Museums can Use the Design Thinking Process to Engage and Delight Visitors" and co-led a workshop titled "Designing for Happiness: Using Design Thinking to Delight Visitors." In this post, I share the five big takeaways I presented at the conference on how to integrate design thinking mindsets into museum practice.

Image courtesy Michael Edson, Smithsonian Institution

Design Thinking for Museums: one year and counting

I launched this blog, Design Thinking for Museums, exactly one year ago at the 2013 Museums and the Web conference in Portland. It was an experiment that UX designer and Stanford d.school fellow Molly Wilson and I built in a day at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art cafe, armed with coffee and Wordpress. The blog was developed as a resource for the field and accompanied a paper documenting a partnership between SFMOMA and the Stanford d.school. When the site launched, I wasn't sure how long we would keep it up, if we'd get any readers, and what kind of response we'd receive from the museum community. I'm happy to report that now, one year later, there are small but significant signs of enthusiasm for and adoption of design thinking in the museum sector. I've just returned from the 2014 Museums and the Web conference, where I presented a paper with co-authors from the Getty and the Queensland Museum about how those institutions are using design thinking and prototyping to tackle challenges ranging from designing new digital publications to re-envisioning organizational structures.

Design ≠ design thinking

This guest post is from Molly Clare Wilson, an experience designer and teacher in San Francisco.  When we confuse “design” and “design thinking,” everyone loses. Designers get their backs up at the […]

Hacking old habits to effect organizational change

Some of the key mindsets of design thinking rely on un-learning old ways of working. To successfully integrate design thinking into your museum—whether it's for a small, one-off project or an institution-wide initiative—you must hack your old habits.

Breaking assumptions with empathy

Over and over, one of the big lessons in design thinking seems to be don’t assume—discover directly. The insights gained from talking directly to users informs our understanding of their needs, which in turn makes all the difference between spinning one’s wheels and developing solutions that people can actually use. And prototyping and iterating along the way provide constant check-ins and mechanisms for adjustments.

Stepping into the “continuum of innovation”: kicking-off design thinking in your museum

I've had numerous inquiries from colleagues at institutions around the world about how to get started with design thinking at home. To step into into this "continuum of innovation," there are some strategies and approaches you can implement to kick-off the process and start infusing the design thinking ethos into your work culture. Some of these are more attitudinal, while others are tactical.

Why design thinking for museums?

When I signed up for an Executive Education course offered through Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, or the "d.school," I didn't really know much about design thinking--or how it was relevant to museums. In fact, I didn't know what I was getting into.