Build In Order to Think

In his new book Change by Design, Tim Brown presents the idea that we should learn by making…or as he puts it, instead of thinking about what to build, we should “build in order to think.” The brain and the hand are inextricably linked. We rely on the use of our hands to help our brain process information and complete its cognitive search for patterns. Put another way by Stuart Brown (TED 2008), “The human hand in manipulation of objects is the hand in search of a brain, the brain is in search of a hand and play is the medium by which those two are linked in the best way.“

This sheds light on the drawbacks of the common approach to process improvement which relies on heavy data analysis to gain insights. This connection between thinking and using your hands would suggest that prototyping and iterative playing with process improvements may be a better way to achieve deeper levels of process thinking and learning, rather than by mere imitation and analysis alone.

Said another way, it is possible, that when we rely on an “intellectual“ approach to collecting and analyzing data in order to improve a process, we may be circumventing the one activity which leads to true thinking and innovation…the act of using our hands and prototyping in order to ”think“ our way through the process redesign.

Given the brain’s partnership with the hands, the key is to focus on the speed and interactivity of your improvements. The faster you put our ideas into the prototyping process, the faster you will begin to learn and refine your ideas. Start now…what is your 70% solution? Get your ideas into play and don’t get too wrapped up in the details.


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