How do you get a line of people stretching around the block to come to a funky bar where opera is the big draw? Opera? That's right opera.
Thinking out of the box is just so much business hogwash most of the time. Here you will learn from a master about creative thinking for your business.
I had the honor of spending an afternoon with Bob Sutton PhD, professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University.
Bob is a true creative. He can hold ten ideas at the same time and make you understand all of them within minutes. What fun.
He was named "One of the Ten 'B Schools' All Stars" by Business Week as someone who influences contemporary business thinking far beyond academia.
So, when Bob speaks, it pays to listen.
First we talked about his super successful book The No Asshole Rule: Building as Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, and that the issues of bullying are still way too rampant in the workplace.
When I thanked him for his endorsement of my book, Don't Bring It to Work and added that I was ambivalent about having the word 'asshole' on my cover, he smiled and said he decided to use this title so people would pay attention. And they have.
We did a deep dive into "D School" as the way of the future. Bob is a key proponent of not just talking design, but making it a living area of the business world. And he became animated as he discussed several projects that design thinking took to higher levels than expected.
Here is a taste of one that I found fascinating.
Back to that line at that bar in San Francisco. The question was: How do you get younger people to want to attend the opera? Opera in many instances seems way too old fashioned, slow, even, well yes, boring.
Design thinking, Bob explained, relies on logic, imagination, intuition and systems reasoning. It's a mindset that included everyone. It includes the needs of the people coupled with technology. Design it more than just what something looks like, it's about how it works.
Bob described the Opera Project, remember, logic, imagination, intuition, and systems reasoning. Here's the overview of what happened.
The Opera staff was introduced to new ways of thinking. Initially, you guessed it; resistance.
That was until they saw the line around the corner. It wasn't just drinks with unique opera names. There was a roulette wheel that would spin around to add excitement about what the next musical piece would be. There were so many ways to engage the clientele that opera became, well, fun. Something new and unusual.
Design thinking per Sutton is good because you get uncomfortable with feeling uncomfortable. And that's a good thing. It's when the new ideas and magic happens.
Everyone gets involved and situations are authentic, real and unpredictable. In time the aversion to change and the fear of failure also change.
Here is the power of design thinking. It helps you: develop empathy for others, generate new ideas quickly, test rough prototypes, and fuel rapid learning for teams and organization.
This experiential way of working together is the wave of the future. Not sure? Sutton co-launched the Designing Organizational Change Project as a hub for leaders and academics intrigued by new thinking.
I'm intrigued. For me this is a faster route to transform outdated behavior patterns in a shorter time. Just ask the folks at the San Francisco Opera.