A stab at design thinking

02Nov10

I recently reviewed an interesting presentation called “Design Thinking is Killing Creativity“. Whilst I feel that the author was trying to generate an audience through being controversial, it does echo a common sentiment amongst the design community that ‘design thinking‘ is fundamentally flawed with it’s assertion that everyone is a designer.

It reminded me of some presentations that I recently saw at the UX Australia 2010 conference in Melbourne. (You can review a presentation I put together for my colleagues in relation to the key takeouts from the conference about UX Maturity)

The first one was by Iain Barker from Meld Studios called Design thinking: Is this our ticket to the big table?. In his presentation Iain notes that not many designers or UX professionals call themselves ‘design thinkers’.

As businesses increasingly aspire to become more design-led, there is an opportunity for designers to be more involved in the strategic stages of product design and business model evolution. He said that if designers do not jump on the ‘design thinking’ band-wagon people who really have no idea about design will which could be damaging for peoples’ perceptions of ‘design’.

Jared Spool gave the conference keynote where he asked what ww2 enemy aircraft spotters, sushi chefs, and chicken sexers have in common. What is a chicken sexer you may ask?

“Chick sexing is the method of distinguishing the sex of chicken and other hatchlings, usually by a trained person called a chick sexer or chicken sexer” (SRC: wikipedia)

What Jared was basically saying is that design is craft-like, that it is learned and not open to introspection. It relies on an intuitive design sense which evolves over time.

As the presentation Design Thinking is Killing Creativity below elaborates on…

design is not something that is learnt by rote or a repeatable process

DISCLAIMER: this preso includes some interesting points…only some of which I agree with)

I particularly like this point that you can’t separate design thinking from design doing…and that ‘a couple of workshops post-its are just not enough to turn you into a designer’

This topic is of interest to me and I am reading some books about design theory (by the likes of Schon, Simon, Lawson and the new book by Dorst and Lawson); some of which were published before the term ‘design thinking’ was discussed in Business Week.

I will be writing more on this topic soon….

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