Design Thinking

Design thinking is taking design to something that is more than just something that looks cool or simply solves a perceived problem. For one, that problem might not even be the real issue. Perhaps through brainstorming and research you’re able to determine there is an entirely different issue at hand.

That is precisely where this all comes in.

Design thinking is a way of going about something that is totally out of the ordinary.  It’s about doing more than sorting through observations and data but rather seeing how that through analyzing that research, you can tell stories.

What makes it so interesting is that it takes design from its normal habitat in the art world. Not to throw all design majors under the bus, but design is literally everywhere. From the clothes we wear to the things we eat out of, the bus schedule we follow and the signs we read.

One of the classes I took this quarter was Design Thinking and Concept Development. Oddly enough, it’s found under the management section of the b. school. I guess that fits in a way, but I think it should be a mandatory class for design students. Or anyone really.

I’ve enjoyed spending a quarter looking more in depth at things I’m actually designing for. Often, I think designers can get caught up in the interface of something and forget to look and see if their design is actually helping.

“willingness to be wrong is important”

In the class we watched a lot of interesting TED videos by various people ranging from the Tim Brown, founder of IDEO to Ken Robinson, who spoke on education.

One of the stories that stuck out to me was in Ken Robinson’s talk on “school kills creativity.” In this he told a story about Gillian Lyne who dances for the Royal Ballet. She grew up as someone who couldn’t stick to the rules, constantly getting in trouble in school and not paying attention. Her mother thought that she might have ADHD, it wasn’t until she went to a doctor that the doctor said “she’s not sick, she’s a dancer”. Robinson talked about how school was covering up talents that children had because they stuck to such rigid guidelines.

It’s a really interesting concept to think about, what would happen if we completely revamped education? But that’s another thought for another day.

Another story that was told was about a little girl who was drawing God, someone asked her “well, no one really knows what God looks like…” the girl said to them “they will in a minute…” Kids are often the only people willing to make mistakes which is rather crucial to the design process.

I’ve learned through a few classes now that often the design or project you don’t think will work out well, often turns out the best. It takes that giant first step outside of the box to get to something worth working on.

I’m also taking information design this quarter which fits in quite nicely with the story telling aspects of design thinking. I’m constantly reminded about the need to tell a story and share information in a clear and concise way. Taking what I’ve learned from that class I’ve become more comfortable with the idea of an iterative process.

I’ve gotten in the habit lately of taking a design I’m working on and making 4 copies. With each of the copies, I’ll try something completely different. Stepping outside of my comfort zone sometimes works and sometimes completely fails. But it’s interesting to see what it can turn into.

More on the class later, it’s a rather hefty subject load and way too much for one post. I’m working on a 54+ page analysis of the class right now for the final presentation of information tomorrow.