Promoting Design Thinking Across Disciplines

By Taylor Borden, Marketing and Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship 

The notion of design thinking can change the trajectory of your life – Chris Mumford

1At a colloquium on Monday, October 17, Chris Mumford spoke to faculty and students in the Department of Computer Science about the hot topic of design thinking.

Mumford teaches a design thinking course at Wake Forest University.  He also teaches entrepreneurship and design thinking at the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill in the GLOBE program.

Mumford was introduced by Paul Pauca, the Lelia and David Farr Faculty Chair of Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship and Associate Professor of Computer Science, who referred to him as a “serial entrepreneur.” With titles like CEO, VP of Design, CFO, and COO of multiple different education and healthcare startups under his belt, Mumford knows a thing or two about a well-designed innovation.

“The notion of design thinking can change the trajectory of your life,” Mumford announced at the beginning of his seminar.

It is the concept of taking a fuzzy idea and “crystallizing it into a solution to a problem by way of a product that is validated by consumers and stakeholders.”

This process is rooted in creativity, which Mumford contends really comes down to: “pattern recognition, opportunity assessment, and the wherewithal to do something about it.”

Once you tap into this creativity, he shares that the innovation process includes five steps:

  1. Problem—establishing the problem and potential solution, the user profile and experience
  2. Research—what else is out there, features and benefits comparisons
  3. Improvisation—trying everything that will maybe work, “the sexy part”
  4. Curation—the economic feasibility and analysis
  5. Editing—these steps are not linear, frequently repeatable, and almost circular, go back and edit

2After his overview of design thinking and the innovation process, Mumford then engaged participants in a number of improvisational exercises. These improvisational exercises force the participants to begin thinking differently—thinking creatively—enforcing the very thought processes that will help them better find where “passion, purpose, and profit meet.”