Much to the chagrin of parents, children always ask, “Why?” even about the simplest things.
Discovering and trying to understand the world from their own developing perspective, children are always looking for insight that will help make sense of what they’re seeing and experiencing.
Similarly, a good design thinker always asks, “Why?”
Such questioning allows us the opportunity to reframe a problem, understand its constraints and use the information to find a more innovative solution.
Instead of accepting the world “as it is” because “it has always been thus,” we should ask whether a current solution to a problem is the optimal one, or indeed whether we’re even addressing the right problem in the first place.
Before organized agriculture, humans gathered fruits and vegetables from near and far. This exhausting, sometimes fruitless task was simply the way things were done for thousands of years.
Eventually somebody asked: Why do we spend so much time wandering around for food when we know that plants grow from and also produce seeds? By asking this simple question and using it as a springboard for innovation, agriculture, and thus civilization, were born.
But good design thinkers aren’t satisfied with just having discovered a solution to a problem. Rather, they want to share their ideas in the hopes that the ideas will be built upon by other innovators.
It’s easy to get possessive about ideas. After all, we’ve put so much time and energy into them that we start to see them as parts of ourselves. Thus we try to monopolize the development of our ideas and bar others from tinkering with them.
But this is terrible for innovation! If an idea is shared freely, it will quickly improve – and that’s a situation in which everybody wins.