Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Roots of Design-thinking

For our first field trip for the ROC 2020 map project, my students and I met with folks from the Good Food Collective to help them sort the very last of their winter veggies. You may be wondering what the heck carrots and potatoes have to do with design-thinking. My students were probably wondering that too as they sifted through the dirty and sometimes stinky roots.

Here's what these root vegetables have to do with design-thinking: they are the product of Good Food’s vision of transforming the regional food system, acquired through a process at the heart of design-thinking called “Build to Learn.” Last fall when the Good Food Collective was struggling with the question of how to deliver regionally produced food year-round in a region, Western New York, that has a mere three-month growing season, they didn’t rely solely on other people’s data. They also didn’t rely on a business plan, and they certainly didn’t let the possibility of failure get in their way (“Fail Forward Fast“ is another process inherent to design-thinking). Instead, they made a prototype: they found a dark and cool space, played with a couple of different types of storage bins, and voila: beautiful, crisp carrots and potatoes in March. By thinking and working as designers, by building and testing their own prototypes, they learned how to get closer to their vision of transforming the food system in Western New York.


  1. Love it! Failure is REALLY not an option! If you are determined, you can make almost anything happen!

  2. great post! I think I'm going to show this to my boss. I've been having a hard time explaining DTP to him.


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