Is Design Thinking a magical cure-all?

Change as a Challenge

The internet and with it the digitization and growing technological achievements are changing our world. Of course, change is nothing new; industries and companies have to face change every day through competition and innovation. Mootee describes, all companies must endure change to survive or grow (Mootee, 2013, p.124), but the change we’ve been experiencing for a while now, is particularly fast and influential. We are living in an age where change is reshaping industries and categories (Mootee, 2013, p.124) with great impact, bringing opportunities that we can exploit for growth, but also risks that can lead to an existential threat if we are not sensing it early enough and respond to it properly.

Change brings chances by Bento Orlando

Change is not the problem, but the challenge businesses have to overcome. The problem or danger, like Mootee describes it, lies in applying theories and practices based on outdated models of two or three decades ago (Mootee, 2013, p.99). As these practices and theories are outdated, they often cannot provide an adequate response to today’s challenges. More than 80 percent of our management tools, systems, and techniques are for value-capture efforts, not for value creation; (Mootee, 2013, p.75). This is a problem if a business wants to compete with other companies who can create and offer new values, which are requested by customers in this new landscape.

Design Thinking as a Solution

Design thinking is an approach everybody can use, to find a proper response with new alternatives and ideas we need (Brown, 2009) to create new values. Because design thinking is promising, some business leaders gazing hopefully towards design thinking as the next management “wonder drug” (Mootee, 2013, p.35). The hope of helping one’s own business to new heights with this seemingly playful approach is tempting. But the hype surrounding design thinking makes some people overlook the fact that this approach is not just hanging sticky notes to fancy walls in colorful spaces. Design thinking’s association with or applications in business is often way oversimplified (Mootee, 2013, p.54) and that can raise false hopes. Business leaders must understand the context before designing and implementing any change program (Mootee, 2013, p.124) and this is an important part of design thinking.

Essential parts of Design Thinking in E.62 design by Mindshake

To learn design thinking properly it is useful to participate in a design thinking workshop as I did during my design thinking class at Laurea University. Katja Tschimmel, who is a design thinking coach taught us various models and tools, which we were able to put into practice together in groups. Using the methods with divergent and convergent phases was important because a big part of design thinking is design doing (Mootee, 2013, p.80). It is a process where you learn in collaboration with the others and like Katja Tschimmel said you copy and adapt and adaption is necessary in times of change.

Katja Tschimmels Design Thinking class

My Experience with Design Thinking

As a designer who has been working in this field for almost 4 years, design thinking is not something new. I know the advantages of including customers in the process or methods like prototyping. I didn’t expect to hear much new, but as a designer, you still can have eye-opening moments while learning about design thinking. The course broadened my perspective, reminded me of things that had already faded into my subconscious and sharpened my terminology and methodology.

A Valuable Practice

Design thinking is far from a magical cure-all (Mootee, 2013, p.35), but a valuable practice to sense change, to find opposing ideas and constraints who lead to new solutions (Brown, 2009, 4:00)redefined values up to new business models. It is an approach that can replace outdated practices and theories to face today’s challenges properly.

Author: Bento Orlando Haridas – September 2019

References

  • Mootee, I. 2013. Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation: What They Can’t Teach You at Business or Design School: Wiley.
  • Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking: Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services, processes – and even strategy.: Harvard Business Review
  • Tim Brown. 2009. Design Thinking: TED Talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=J0ZbVAQ8bWI

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