Are all designers Design Thinkers?
I think the assumption by many is “yes”. I would disagree. I think Design Thinking derives from Design, but it is not synonymous, nor are the practitioners. I definitely think designers have a leg up on others since they use many of the methods as part of their formal design education; however, design thinking, as I see it living in the business world, is a blend. It is the bridge between business and design. It blends Imagination, Empathy, Analysis and Discipline. For someone to be a Design Thinker, they have to be both imaginative and disciplined. Not all designers want to go on this journey, just as not all business people want to open up their imaginations. It is inherently a hybrid approach.
I was reminded of this last month as my graduate level “Design Thinking for Business” wrapped up. One of my graduate students, who is getting a masters in architecture and business stated in her project “When I began this course, I assumed much of the content would be a repeat of concepts I had already learned. After all, I have spent the last seven years in design school, and I considered myself an expert in ‘design thinking’. Little did I know, I still had much to learn.”
Actually, this is perhaps the most important aspect of all aspiring to be a Design Thinker — an orientation that says “I still have much to learn”.
Consider an area where you feel you are an expert. Consider taking a stance “I still have much to learn”. What would you want to learn more about? Seek it out with openness.