Robbie ‘69 emphasizes innovation, creativity

The Dartmouth

May 18, 2011

By Ross Brown

Design thinkers must use empathy, creativity, collaboration and playfulness when addressing complex problems, Thayer School of Engineering professor Peter Robbie ’69 said during a Social Enterprise and Economic Development Society lecture Tuesday evening. Design thinking is a unique method of problem solving that attempts to satisfy individuals’ needs in a manner that is both feasible and profitable, according to Robbie.

While production consists of “exploiting existing knowledge and perfecting repetition,” innovation centers around “trying to explore new knowledge,” Robbie said. Robbie cited the development of the Toyota Prius as an example of a production company creating a truly innovative product.

“The development of the Toyota Prius totally debunked the image of Toyota as a safe, boring company,” Robbie said. He added that developing the hybrid car required the company to assume greater risks than it had in the past.

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