You May Already Be a Design Thinker

Submitted By:
Jessica Flaxman, Charlotte Country Day School, Charlotte, NC

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
by Bill Burnet & Dave Evans
Alfred A. Knopf, September 2016

Curious? Like to try things out? Do you try to reframe questions to get at different answers? Do you enjoy working with others? If so – and probably so if you are involved in education – according to Bill Burnet and Dave Evans of Stanford’s Design School, you are already a design thinker. In Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Burnet and Evans offer educators, as well as professionals outside of education, some key frameworks for some elusive but desired outcomes: innovation, and its possible subsidiary, happiness. A well-designed life, they argue, is one that accurately assesses where we are, how we feel, where we’re stuck and how to move forward. To that end, Burnet and Evans provide useful concepts such as the dashboard, the compass and the Odyssey plan to invite readers to step into a design process geared toward elegant and innovative ideation, prototyping, and problem solving. While the book is specific in places to help the reader identify and pursue the most fulfilling work/life balance, every piece of wisdom is applicable to teaching and learning in a school settings where constituents, from students to administrators, can get stuck. By applying the design thinking process to perennial issues that seem intractable, Burnet and Evans suggest that schools and the people within them can forge ahead with optimism and confidence.

Leadership Practice