There are a lot of aspects of so-called 'design thinking' that Jonah Lehrer would never embrace. Brainstorming, for one thing, is shunned by Lehrer in his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works.
And yet, there are some important aspects of design thinking at work in the latest video lesson Lehrer has taped with Big Think. Design thinking, in the sense that we wish to employ it here, is the mental process of literally thinking like a designer to solve a problem.
The specific problem we are looking at today is growth. What can companies learn from the way that cities grow? At first glance that question might seem utterly counter-intuitive, as we tend to think of cities in the chaotic context of rapid urbanization. And yet, as Lehrer points out, the design ethos of the city is human-centered. The interactions that happen in cities tend to be very productive, whereas growing companies can experience fatal stagnation as they come to rely on old ideas.
Lehrer's key insight in this lesson is that we ought to design communities and organizations with the same ethos, that is one that encourages interaction, and therefore maximizes productivity.