Build to Think

Kids building a fort

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, has often said that he and other design thinkers “build to think.” As a design thinker, this means that I am learning about the world around me and the problems that I am trying to solve through experiementation and iteration. I learn through failing over and over again, rather than theorizing about the most succesful path. I learn through prototyping. I learn through showing rather than telling. I learn through doing.

In short, that is what this blog is about and why I’ve titled it “build to think.” I want to share how I’ve began tapping into creativity that I wasn’t sure was there just a couple of years ago. This blog is also a reminder for me that I need to build to think – it’s easy for me to lapse back into thinking to build. Creating this blog is sadly an example of thinking to build…I had this strong desire that everything would be perfect, rather than just going for it, failing and then learning, and then iterating. It took me several weeks from setting up the site, to brainstorming content, to actually publishing this first post. I need reminders to build to think!

So I am hoping that sharing my experiences will provide additional motivation of the mindset of building to think that I believe to be fundamental to continuing to develop as a design thinker. Like many that blog, I am writing as if no one else will read and then if others find my words helpful, then that’s a bonus. That said, I think you should read this blog if:

  • you are looking for practical ways to think more creatively
  • you want to better understand design thinking
  • you want to be more empathetic
  • you want tools to become more innovative

So what is design thinking? I think design thinking can most simply be described as an empathy based problem solving approach. As has been said by others, the term “design thinking” is a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t really about “design” as in asthetically pleasing and it involves much more doing than “thinking”.

How did I get into design thinking? For the last couple of years, I have been interested in things that were well designed. I wanted to start learning from those individuals and companies. This all came to a head in 2012, when I attended Stanford’s Design Thinking Boot Camp at the This three days was a life changing event that has me now on my way as a design thinker.

Ok…I feel like that’s enough background. Now onto some doing!


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