Design Thinking is…
What is Design Thinking–good or bad? a useful approach or a waste of time? innovative or preserving the status quo?
I hate to do it again but it’s all in the AND, not the OR.
Design Thinking is good and bad, useful and a waste of time, innovative and preserving what is.
How can this be?
In her HBR article, “Design Thinking is Fundamentally Conservative and Preserves the Status Quo,”Natasha Iskander outlines its uselessness, largely due to her perspective that it’s the Designer’s privilege of deeming what is good and what will be and a sequence of activities similar to other processes of the past. I would argue what she has witnessed is poorly executed Design Thinking. There are situations where designers solve a problem from their unique vantage point and that can lead to interesting things. However, when you evoke the term Design Thinking, that process, in my definition, is about bringing together diversity of experience and perspectives and marrying that with stakeholder empathy and co-creation. While a given work process may have a end. Design Thinking, done well, is a life long journey of looking for a better outcome…a continual learning journey.
The difference between Design Thinking GOOD, USEFUL, INNOVATIVE and Design Thinking BAD, WASTEFUL, SAFE is how well those leveraging it truly embrace it as a discovery process and not as a checklist of sequenced tasks. Design Thinking is a perpetual learning journey, with a continual cycle of divergence and convergence and a mindset of how you look at problems, not just at the symptoms, but within the larger system. Design Thinking is not conservative. People are in how they choose to use it. Preserving the status quo is another great skill people have. Tools and approaches are only as good as the operator. Many people are self proclaimed Design Thinkers and that may lead to checklist Design Thinking, giving the tool a bad name. Design Thinking is an open approach and this can lead to Operator Error. And, I propose, that is what is happening in this article. So, if you love (or are curious about) Design Thinking, reach out to someone who can help you do it well…and trust them to lead you through the process outside of your comfort zone, so you don’t get conservative, status quo answers to your challenges. You deserve better and Design Thinking can help you get there.
Push yourself to go outside your comfort zone and invite a Design Thinking expert help you experience the potential of a innovative, discovery oriented Design Thinking experience.