Design Thinking – An evolution

Wednesday 28th, October 2015

What does the word ‘design’ mean to you? If you are like me, someone from a traditional marketing/advertising background that word immediately brings distinct connotations to mind. It is what our ad agencies did best for us – an ad, a film, a package design or brochure. It involved one or more elements of art, typography, photography, copy etc.

It ought to be quite apparent that is a fairly restricted and specific view. Sample this. “Design is about simplicity, an absolute focus on the user and constant innovation”. Or, this one. “Design Thinking is a practical tool for integrating 21st century skills and an innovator’s mindset into the classroom, school and workplace”. How about this one from Wikipedia? “Design thinking is a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result”

Clearly, there is a recognition that design thinking is focussed on delivering an optimum solution that may take a somewhat unorthodox approach. A typical scientist or engineer’s approach on the other hand is more logical, linear and focussed on identifying the problem alone.

I have lost count of the number of meetings where the client turned to my creative partner and said, “Oh, you’re the creative person. You come up with the ideas”!

Design thinking is an imperative; it does not matter whether the person or team activating the process sits on the client side or the consultant’s side. What we at Xerago bring to the table is an ability to synthesise both approaches. There is no emphasising the value of one approach over the other – a problem-solving approach is as important as a design thinking-led approach.

Unfortunately, given the dynamics of most organisations one or other type of thinking gets branded as “our way”. And predictably enough, those who disagree can take the highway!

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