Design Thinking is all the rage! Even now in the Learning & Development field. A powerful methodology if done right, but a process that can go wrong when applied inappropriately to learning design. In their new book, Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher show us how to use design thinking right—when we apply it to learning design.

 

Background

First, a little background on design thinking. The folks from IDEO, one of the exemplars of design thinking, say this about their work, “Human-centered designers are unlike other problem solvers—we tinker and test, we fail early and often, and we spend a surprising amount of time not knowing the answer to the challenge at hand. And yet, we forge ahead. We’re optimists and makers, experimenters and learners, we empathize and iterate, and we look for inspiration in unexpected places.”

Let me highlight two key things: Iteration and Empathy.

Too often in learning design and development, we design in a lockstep ADDIE fashion, from point A to point E. Instead of rapid prototyping and improvement, we are so insular in our overconfidence, that we build learning that just doesn’t work that well.

We also have a tendency to trust our learners too much with their learning design intuitions, even though tons of research shows us that learners have large misconceptions about learning. Some of us have taken the empathy notion from design thinking too far, blindly trusting learners. The history of this goes back long before design thinking to the harmful optimism of Malcolm Knowles and his theory of Andragogy.

The Fix

Sharon Boller and Laura Fletcher have long been believers in evidence-based practice. Just as importantly, they spent years utilizing and fine-tuning their learning development processes to include design-thinking principles and techniques. In Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys that Get Results, Sharon and Laura blend evidence and practice into workable and pragmatic guidelines for using design thinking. They integrate the power of design thinking and eliminate the wrong turns that happen when research and evidence is ignored.

Even in the subtitle, “Creating learning journeys that get results,” you can tell that Sharon and Laura are talking about creating meaningful learning designs. They seek out learner data, but put safeguards on this process, including special review iterations, routine prototyping, and meaningful evaluation.

The Upshot

Boller and Fletcher, in Design Thinking for Training and Development, build a powerful tool-set for learning professionals. By augmenting Design Thinking with research-based wisdom and practical insights about learning, the book provides a new learning-development methodology—a worthy replacement for learning-neutral processes like ADDIE.

The book is available tomorrow on Amazon. Click on these words to get the book.