Design Thinking Quotes from “Change by Design”

November 5, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: design, design thinking, human factors 

Change-By-Design

A couple weeks ago, I finished reading Tim Brown’s first book, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.

Overall, I found it to be a thought provoking read.  As I noted in a previous post, I was interested in seeing how he expanded on the concept of design thinking.  As one might expect, he covered the topic in detail.  Some of the more interesting points, include:

  • …designing thinking needs to move “upstream,” closer to the executive suites where strategic decisions are made. (p. 37)
  • The evolution from design to design thinking is the story of the evolution from the creation of products to the analysis of the relationship between people and products, and from there to the relationship between people and people. (pp. 41 – 42)
  • The mission of design thinking is to translate observations into insights and insights into products and services that will improve lives. (p. 49)
  • Design has the power to enrich our lives by engaging our emotions through image, form, texture, color, sound, and smell.  The intrinsically human-centered nature of design thinking points to the next step: we can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation. (p. 115)
  • Design can help to improve our lives in the present.  Design thinking can help us chart a path into the future. (p. 149)
  • Design thinking is unlikely to become an exact science, but as with the quality movement there is an opportunity to transform it from a black art into a systematically applied management approach.  The trick is to do this without sucking the life out of the creative process – to balance management’s legitimate requirement for stability, efficiency, and predictability with the design thinker’s need for spontaneity, serendipity, and experimentation. (p. 176)
  • Design thinking is about creating a multipolar experience in which everyone has the opportunity to participate in the conversation. (p. 192)
  • There are at least three significant areas where design thinking can promote what Canadian designer Bruce Mau calls the “massive change” that is called for today.  The first has to do with informing ourselves about what is at stake and making visible the true costs of the choices we make.  The second involves a fundamental reassessment of the systems and processes we use to create new things.  The third task to which design thinking must respond is to find ways to encourage individuals to move toward more sustainable behaviors. (p. 195)
  • Design thinking starts with divergence, the deliberate attempt to expand the range of options rather than narrow them down. (p. 229)
  • Because design thinking balances the perspectives of users, technology, and business, it is by its nature integrative. (p. 229)

Besides the design thinking topic, he also made other noteworthy points, including:

  • What we need are new choices – new products that balance the needs of individuals and of society as a whole; new ideas that tackle the global challenges of health, poverty, and education; new strategies that result in differences that matter and a sense of purpose that engages everyone affected by them. (p. 3)
  • In a multidisciplinary team each individual becomes an advocate for his or her own technical specialty and the project becomes a protracted negotiation among them, like resulting in a gray compromise.  In an interdisciplinary team there is a collective ownership of ideas and everybody takes responsibility for them. (pp. 27-28)
  • …technology alone does not necessarily result in a better customer experience. (p. 182)
  • Often, in our enthusiasm for solving the problem in front of us, we fail to see the problems that we create. (p. 194)
  • …we should be suspicious when an idea becomes too closely identified with the person who first thought it up. (p. 239)

For those interested in learning more about design thinking, I’d suggest starting with this book.  But, if you’re unwilling to devote the time to reading a book, you can start with his article, “Design Thinking” (2.88 MB, .pdf), watch his recent TED talk, and/or visit his blog.

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