The Four Phases of Design Thinking - BusinessWeek

Question. If you spend any time around designers, you quickly discover this about them: They ask, and raise, a lot of questions. Often this is the starting point in the design process, and it can have a profound influence on everything that follows. Many of the designers I studied, from Bruce Mau to Richard Saul Wurman to Paula Scher, talked about the importance of asking "stupid questions"—the ones that challenge the existing realities and assumptions in a given industry or sector. The persistent tendency of designers to do this is captured in the joke designers tell about themselves. How many designers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Does it have to be a light bulb?

In a business setting, asking basic "why" questions can make the questioner seem naïve while putting others on the defensive (as in, "What do you mean 'Why are we doing it this way?' We've been doing it this way for 22 years!"). But by encouraging people to step back and reconsider old problems or entrenched practices, the designer can begin to re-frame the challenge at hand—which can then steer thinking in new directions. For business in today's volatile marketplace, the ability to question and rethink basic fundamentals—What business are we really in? What do today's consumers actually need or expect from us?—has never been more important.

Ran across this article on Twitter and could not agree more with the findings. I pulled out the "question" part because it resonates with me. I was a huge pain in the butt student in my collegiate years - always asking questions. I had one professor that would always say "you can't do that" and my response was always "why" while most everyone else just said OK and made the change. I was the only person that actually liked that class too ... maybe I feel like I learned more than they did because I actually got answers. Dunno really. Then cut to my job search. I was connected to my current job by one of my old college professors. I always ask him how he knew I'd be right for the position... he's never answered me specifically, but maybe this is my answer...