How We Do Things

Given the current crisis and challenges we are all facing today and the weeks to come, it is inevitable that we will have difficult conversations.

Conversations with co-workers who are acclimating to remote work, conversations with groups of people who are not respecting social distancing, and conversations between and among healthcare professionals.

It is understood that we will limit access to healthcare facilities. Whether to visitors or “non-essential” staff. The conversations aren’t easy – they’re not supposed to be.

But we can decide how we have them. Too often, there is apathy or lack of understanding for each other. There is another way – with empathy and with respect.

This is how we should always do things.

Design Thinking: A Short Primer

These days, very few things have me as excited as Design Thinking. It is a model to identify problems with a focus on a human centered approach (called human centered design).

While the concept has been applied to business, it is also used in education and healthcare, among other industries.

By definition, design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.

It revolves around several steps: Empathy -> Define -> Ideate -> Prototype -> Test

As mentioned in a webinar below, we could add “accept” to the begin – a step to accept that you have a problem.

D.thinking can also be broken down into:

  1. Experimentation
  2. Deep Understanding
  3. Creative Reframing

From a business standpoint, you can find it broken down by:

  1. Desirability
  2. Viability
  3. Feasability

It is also seen as a culture of mindsets:

  1. Re-framing
  2. Curiosity
  3. Radical Collaboration
  4. Mindful of Process
  5. Bias for Action

Another interesting framework coming out of d.thinking is the double diamond design. This includes:

Discover -> Define -> Develop -> Deliver

Over the next several posts, sporadic or otherwise, most of the topics will including DT and how it can be used in healthcare.

The references below are the ones I came across so far and is not an exhaustive list. I’ll continue to update it as I find more.

Useful References:

(Last updated February 2020)


The Right Way to Lead D.Thinking by Christian Bason & Robert Austin / Mar-Apr 2019 Harvard Business Review (HBR)

Non-disruptive Creation: Rethinking Innovation and Growth by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne / Spring 2019 MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT-SMR)

Design for Action by Tim Brown and Roger Martin / Sep 2015 HBR

Design Thinking Comes of Age by Jon Kolko / Sep 2015 HBR

Why Design Thinking Works by Jeanne Liedtka / Sep-Oct 2018 HBR

How Indra Nooyi Turned Design Thinking into Strategy by Adi Ignatius / Sep 2015 HBR

How Samsung Became a Design Powerhouse by Youngjin Yoo and Kyungmook Kim / Sep 2015 HBR

The Elements of Good Judgment by Sir Andrew Likierman / Jan-Feb 2020 HBR

Biggest Threat to Health? Solving the Wrong Problems / HuffPost 2017


The D.Thinking Hybrid: An Evolution of Innovation / Stanford Center for Professional Development / Bill Burnet

Designers – Think Big / Tim Brown – TedGlobal2009

Tales of Creativity and Play / Tim Brown – 2008

Human-centered Design / David Kelley – Ted2002

How to build your creative confidence / David Kelley Ted2012

Design is in the details / Paul Bennett TedGlobal 2005

Transforming healthcare for children and families / Doug Dietz TEDx2012


101 Design Methods by Vijay Kumar

Ten Types of Innovation by Larry Keeley

Design Thinking at Work: How Innovative Organizations are Embracing Design by David Dunne

The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design by IDEO

Change By Design by Tim Brown

Click to access Double%20Diamond%20Model%202019.pdf

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash


Posture is a very interesting topic. It is how we hold ourselves, physically and mentally/emotionally.

It clearly applies to our physical body – being upright and awesome as a good friend used to say. Coincidentally, how you’re carrying your body also suggests how you are feeling emotionally. Confident, arrogant, distracted, depressed, etc. These characteristics are held internally but can be identified by others, externally – for those that choose to see (but that is another post for another time).

What is most interesting are the mental postures we hold.

The few that stand out are:

  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Being present

While there are many more to list, for me, this is as good place to start as any. As we can learn from Tom Peters, a bias for action, is the most important step towards excellence. All of these types of postures can be applied to ourselves and to others and show up slightly differently depending on our given situation. So I start here…because there’s a lifetime of work with just these three ideas.

A place to build to is – Ethos – “meaning character that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology.”

Stay tuned as we dig into each of these, and more, in the next few blog posts.


There are many days when you get distracted. Other days, you’re in flow.

Interestingly, the moment of “Squirrel” is something like Shrödinger’s cat. That specific moment could simultaneously be a distraction or an inspiration. Only by seeing what happens next will you know which one it is.

While this is a loose extrapolation it does offer us an opportunity to realize that we get to choose (in that moment) what our next step will be – a distraction or inspiration.

What situations have the highest probability to pull you away and what can you choose to do in that situation?

PS – I’m not a physicist and my understanding of Erwin Schrödinger’s experiment could be incorrect but it sure is lots of fun to combine different ideas and see what happens. 🙂

Photo cred: Me


The next couple of posts will include quotes from Mister Rogers (Fred Rogers).

The world would be a better place if we all were a little more kind, just as he was.

I’ve often hesitated in beginning a project because I’ve thought, “It’ll never turn out to be even remotely like the good idea I have as I start.” I could just “feel” how good it could be. But I decided that, for the present, I would create the best way I know how and accept the ambiguities.

-Fred Rogers

There will always be ambiguities. Your best work is created by improving the “best way you know” and continuing to create things that are meaningful to you.

-This is an excerpt from the book The World According to Mister Rogers.

Solvay Conference

In 1927, a small group of Physicists and Chemists were invited to Brussels to discuss larger problems in both physics and chemistry. The first conference was held in 1911 and scientists attended by invitation only.

I was not aware of this conference until a few years ago but it has been on the top of my mind ever since. One interesting perspective about those who attended (made by Seth Godin) is that people weren’t invited because they won’t a Nobel Prize – no, people won a Nobel Prize because they were invited (attended).

Within most Pharmacy conferences, you sit and listen to a speaker. Occasionally, there is interactive learning but often this is limited to pressing a button to answer a question, disguised as interactive learning. There isn’t a framework similar to Solvay currently.

A significant gap is finding a place to work on the big problems, to brainstorm and test. While there may not be a Nobel Prize at the end, you just might be able to improve healthcare along the way.

Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

Cooks in the Kitchen

In any collaborative effort, there is a chance that several people want to lead. The important part is identifying a leader and creating a team who will work together.

The challenge is when different groups do not want the same leader and communication is stifled as a positioning tactic to gain authority. You can navigate this by listening to the group, making sure everyone is heard, and ultimately making a decision with the best intentions for the collaboration in mind.

In the end, some people might not be happy and if you have done your due diligence as the leader, accepted mistakes, you can rest easy knowing you did your part.

Smart Recombinations

From a 2010 HBR article, The Four Phases of Design Thinking, you are introduced to the idea of “smart recombinations” and the work of John Thackara (In The Bubble and others).

The idea of combining unseen concepts (or groups) is very interesting. For example, you could combine difference disciplines at a health care conference:

  • Pharmacy and Social Work
  • Nursing and Occupational Therapy

You can also combine different learning methods and types.

What combination of didactic, interactive, and peer to peer learning can you create?

What combination of visual, auditory, and hands on learning can you incorporate?

The challenge is taking the time to look – but when we do, lots of unique combinations show up.

Happy Combining!

Interesting Questions

A recent and favorite purchase has been a book by Warren Berger, called The Book of Beautiful Questions.

It is broken up into five parts:

  1. Decision-making
  2. Creativity
  3. Connecting with Others
  4. Leadership
  5. The Inquiring Life

There are too many questions to list here but I’ll write a separate post soon with my favorite (new) questions.

A gem to take from the book so far is a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, who says to stop telling people to find their passion. Many people do not not know what it is and it can create unneeded pressure and anxiety. Gilbert suggests advising people to “follow your curiosity” – which may lead to a passion.

Have a curious day and keep asking questions.

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

Critical Thinking

If I had a nickel for every time a co-worker has said “where was the critical thinking” I could buy a lot of things at the dollar store. 🙂

Joking aside, this is one of the most common (and recurring) themes of feedback I hear about our colleagues in healthcare.

Unfortunately, the type of education and teaching we provide often reenforces this lack of thinking. While there are organizations (think “bigger”) with more technology and virtual learning spaces, the vast majority of healthcare facilities cannot afford this type of resource.

The alternative is to be creative and create learning that will test critical thinking. Learning that empowers Nurses to make decisions and see what happens next, with the safety of being wrong. Learning that allows Pharmacists to see the whole picture and think quickly to solve a problem.

You all have the ability to build this type of education. Our workforce will be better for it.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash