Build your creative capacity
Google’s Creative Skills for Innovation Lab, or CSI:Lab, teaches teams and individuals to think creatively and innovate using design thinking. This program is one of the ways we support an innovative environment at Google and is our adaptation of the design thinking process.
- Empathy (“know the user”): Empathy is an intentional effort to understand people’s aspirations about how they live, work, and play. Increasingly, researchers recognize that actively taking the perspective of others “encourages employees to develop ideas that are useful as well as novel.” With empathy, you can find inspiration in real human needs and motivations to create meaningful products and solutions that meet those needs. One of the most important aspects of the CSI:Lab design thinking exercise is the focus on users. Every CSI:Lab exercise starts with a discussion about the people who will use the product or service.
- Expansive thinking (“think 10x”): Idea generation is another important step in the innovation process. The goal of brainstorming is quantity, not quality — most of the ideas generated aren’t useful. Research shows that the productivity of brainstorming sessions tends to decrease when groups are too large, sessions are monitored or recorded, or when people can’t work independently first. Challenge the group to come up with ideas not just 10% better but 10x better than the status quo. Thinking of a problem in terms of how you can be 10x more impactful can steer you toward radical new possibilities.
- Experimentation (“be prototype-driven”): Experimentation is a way of building your way towards solutions. Test out ideas in this phase and get real data about whether or not it makes sense to move it forward, kill it, or tweak it. For example, Google tests its products internally before releasing them to the public, a process that Googlers call “Dogfooding.” Google also sometimes releases a new service in beta to get feedback from people outside of the company before a wide release. Consider how you could pilot an idea to gather feedback.
Google has used design thinking to approach challenges throughout the organization. In HR, for example, CSI:Labs have focused on improving the internal transfer experience, enhancing the candidate experience, and making it easier for recruiters to keep job candidates updated.