Design Thinking Practiced at Socratic Conversation

Design Thinking was practiced at the Socratic Conversation held on Thursday, September 19th with Ron Gross, group facilitator, author of Socrates’ Way, and Chair of the University Seminar on Innovation on Education.

Participants viewed a brief video of David Kelley, a leading champion of Design Thinking who co-founded IDEO and teaches Design Thinking at Stanford. After critiquing the 5-step methodology (Discovery, Interpretation, Ideation, Experimentation, and Evolution), the group accepted the challenge of a “Straus Park Re-Design Consultancy”, to formulate action plans for re-vitalizing the tiny park at 106th-107th Streets, between Broadway and West End Avenue – where Ron Gross played as a child!

A flip chart full of ideas was quickly generated, starting with the seminal question: How Do You Improve Yourself? Responses colorfully included:

  • Imitate smarter friends.
  • Brain-storm.
  • Focus on one area for improvement each month (diet, exercise, scheduling).
  • GOOD self-improvement books.
  • Look out for OPPORTUNITIES.
  • Expand my bandwidth.
  • The videos really started me thinking.
  • Taking half-days off on the weekend for Thinking Time.
  • “Fail FAST!”

The group chose Creating a Community Garden as a focus for concrete planning. By the end of the session, numerous potentially actionable schemes had been hatched – and the basic conceptual question of “What do we mean by a ‘park’ – and what could we mean?”

“I was amazed that so many promising ideas could be produced in so short a session,” remarked one attendee. Commented facilitator Gross: “It was a tribute to the diversity, commitment, and imagination of the participants.”

Another participant reflected, “The suspension of judgment at a critical point in the process is what I took from those videos. I do believe that we bring ourselves up short too often…”

Expressed another, “Thanks again for another wonderful conversation. How nice to start the semester with a consideration of design thinking and particularly Straus Park.”

The next Socratic Conversation will be Cosmopolitanism: What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen of the World?, on October 24th (United Nations Day) at 4:00 pm.