Prof. Larry Leifer: Dancing with Ambiguity

Prof. Larry Leifer, Stanford University

Dancing with Ambiguity:
Embracing the Tension between Innovation and Decision-making in the Design Process


Over the past thirty years, a powerful methodology for innovation has emerged. It integrates human, business and technical factors in problem forming, solving and design: “Design-Thinking.” This human-centric philosophy integrates expertise from the design, social, management, and engineering sciences to create a corpus of behaviors that are best implemented by small high-performance project teams. It produces a vibrant interaction environment that promotes creativity and rapid learning cycles through conceptual prototyping. The methodology has proven successful in the creation of innovative products, systems, and services.

Design-thinking works. Industry and academia are subscribing to boot camps and immersive workshops. Teams of industry, government and education experts are tackling complex problems and finding powerful solutions. The time is right to apply rigorous academic research to understand how, when and why design thinking works and fails. It is time to create next generation design thinking behaviors and supporting tools.

Through courting ambiguity, we can let invention happen even if we cannot make it happen. We can nurture behaviors that increase the probability of finding a path to innovation in the face of uncertainty. Emphasis is placed on the questions we ask as well as the decisions made. A suite of application examples and research findings will be used to illustrate the concepts in principle and in action.

When: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
4:00 pm – 4:50 pm

Where: WOOD 6
Woodward Instructional Resources Centre
2194 Health Sciences Mall, UBC Vancouver




One response to “Prof. Larry Leifer: Dancing with Ambiguity”

  1. Manuel

    I completely agree the aitgmuiby of the assignment, whether intended or unintended, really ended up being a great learning experience. I’m sure that we all felt that the assignment was lacking in a solid deliverable for the client I remember discussing with my team member about what actually was the point of us regurgitating what the client had told us, just in a different visual format? We briefly explored what our client could do moving forward given the structure of their business, but never actually formed or fully explored possibilities. However, in the real world, we are never privy to all the details and to compete with others, need to always be at least thinking about going beyond the ask to show how we are a valuable asset to our company. It was a learning experience for me and as I reflect upon it, won’t be surprised the next time aitgmuiby comes up in an assignment!

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