481 | Design Thinking: From Ideation to Execution with Abby Wilson

481 | Design Thinking: From Ideation to Execution with Abby Wilson

This week, Eric is joined by Abby Wilson!  Abby runs a global facilitation, mediation, and coaching practice from her beloved home in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  She uses methods from the design field–A.K.A. design-thinking–to help individuals navigate career change, and helps organizations to lead with empathy, reframe challenges, and generate ideas.

Her ADHD diagnosis, 8 years ago at the age of 35, is one of those before-and-after life moments that so many of us can probably relate to, and is thrilled to be connecting the dots between design-thinking, her life’s work for the last 12 years, and her naturally “curly” mind!  Abby’s “curly” mind has lived in 6 countries, she has birthed a child she adores, has worked in many governments, and has enough letters after her name for a competitive Scrabble game!

In this conversation, you’ll hear Eric and Abby talk about design thinking, how it’s beneficial for ADHD folks, the messiness of the creative process, and solving for the right problem.  You’ll also hear about how having a lot of great ideas also means having a lot of not-so-great ideas, prioritizing, risk-taking, the importance of specificity, and why design-thinking is helpful for relationships, tapping into your creativity, and more.  

Get in touch and learn more about design thinking and Abby at her website:


  • [00:01:10] Introducing Abby

  • [00:02:41] What is design thinking?

  • [00:04:11] Abby on teaching iterative process, roadblocks faced during design thinking, and the messiness of the creative process

  • [00:05:13] Eric shares a real-life example and asks Abby about applying design thinking to this situation

  • [00:07:09] The most basic framework for a design process is…

  • [00:08:04] The “Rose, Thorn, Bud” method for being endlessly curious and to start to add an additional layer of meaning

  • [00:11:35] Abby on finding a specific problem-definition and methods to help reframing

  • [00:13:55] What do we do when one idea spawns 20 other ideas?  How do we go back to the original idea when we get sidetracked with other ideas?

  • [00:21:27] A discussion on prioritization: What do we do first? How do we say no?

  • [00:22:56] The sweet spot of ideas and Abby’s favorite method for prioritization: The Importance/Difficulty Matrix

  • [00:25:42] Eric asks Abby, “What kinds of questions do you ask yourself when you’re trying to identify a ranked order of importance?” and defining “importance”

  • [00:27:21] Executive function use, observing energy and emotional investments, and emotional temperatures

  • [00:32:17] Why do design thinking skills matter?

  • [00:37:12] Whether it’s a boss, a partner, a friend, or a group: How do we help them understand the value of design thinking?

  • [00:39:50] What do we do and how do we communicate when ideas happen “too fast?”

  • [00:42:33] Abby shares a book recommendation

  • [00:43:27] Connect with Abby and closing thoughts


  • Article: The Double Diamond: A Universally Accepted Depiction of the Design Process  (read here)

  • Article: Framework for Innovation: Design Council’s Evolved Double Diamond at  (read here)

  • Article: Rose, Thorn, Bud at (read here)

  • Article: The Importance/Difficulty Matrix at (read here)

  • Book: The One Thing by Gary Keller (Goodreads)

  • Book: What Do You Do With an Idea? By Kobi Yamada (Goodreads)

  • Website: Stanford at

Honorable Mentions:

  • “…the things that we have captured become a participant in the conversation.”

  • “We can only define our challenges effectively if we’ve got good data and observations.”

  • “We don’t have to kill our darlings.”

  • “Design thinking helps us harness our natural curiosity and creativity to bring new things into the world.”

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