When, a couple of years ago, I announced I was going to quit my job to attend the HPI School of Design Thinking, most of my family and friends thought I was about to neglect the business path I had been following to find my true self in sketching trees on a notebook. (Which, by the way, is a back thought I never really excluded).
Later on, when sitting next to a scientist, a film producer, a psychologist and a dancer, all aiming to become design thinkers, I wondered what would bring us all together.
Once clarified that our goal was not to become excellent drawers, what does design mean to us? And if background is not a differentiator, what’s that make us feel in the right place?
Tim Brown (2008) lists a number of characteristics shaping the profile of a design thinker:
- Empathy, as in the ability to observe situation from multiple perspectives
- Integrative thinking, as in approaching a problem holistically
- Optimism, as in having trust in finding a solution that fits, no matter how blurry the process is
- Experimentalism, as in curiosity and resilience to failure
- Collaboration, as in a natural tendency to work in teams
This last point is further explained, again by Tim Brown in his book “Change by design”, where he summarizes the profile of design thinker as a “T-shaped” person, meaning someone with a deep expertise that can clearly contribute to the outcome, but also with a certain capacity and disposition for collaboration across disciplines.