Understanding Design & Designers

Understanding Design & Designers


You Know What? I'm Taking On This Challenge

Would you like to practice Design Thinking?

Red Bull Stratos spacedive by Felix Baumgartner

Then you should fall in love with an idea, make of it a personal challenge and design your way though barriers to achieve it. 

Initiate a construction-driven process of thinking focused on achieving your challenge: Recall insights of previous experiences and failures; Observe and analyze contexts and facts; Keep on the move by making micro-decisions to forward your idea in the right direction; Consider others in your decisions and try to create value for people and for you. Do it! 

Pursuit passion: Fall in love with YOUR challenge. 

Passion will compel you to act. People with a passion are driven to pursue and create and feel an overwhelming urge to engage, to experience for themselves and to test their own capabilities and thrownness abilities. 


This is a passion-driven pursuit of a personal challenge so set your mind for magical: Pick a bold challenge that gets to you personally but don't know yet why or it lights up your heart or you may feel it relates to you emotionally. You really want to bring your idea to reality. Make it happen. 

Your daily mantra: This is my challenge

It is YOUR challenge. You don't know how to do it, but you are going to do it anyway. How?. You don't know yet, but for now on, it's going to be you and your challenge, together, living your everyday life. 

Let's take Felix Baumgartner's spacediving as example: Felix buying groceries while thinking to himself…I'm going to make a stratospheric jump…don't know how but I will…Uh-oh 

The beauty of performance.

Be creative!. Design a beautiful and innovative self-performance to accomplish you challenge and enjoy the process of it all: Be self-conscious of what you are doing and make decisions according to your values and believes. 
Take into consideration that when achieving you challenge you are going to share your accomplishment. Make it beautiful! 


What, who, when? It is part of the process. Get over it fast but learn from it.

Choose to go to the moon.  

Courage is needed to choose an unknown path and to overcome uncertainty.
How might you think different to approach this problem? Try to amazing yourself. Do it for you. 

Inner dialogue. Control question.

Ask yourself regularly: Why am I doing all of these? Your vision is like an oasis at Gobi desert: Think about it regularly for nurturing your dream. Keep in mind the big picture.

Resilience is your new skill.   

FInd out how persistent and disciplined you can be when need it. Could you ever imagine that you were so patient? You would be by necessity.

Felix and the entire crew were great to see. Real success doesn't come by demanding things go your way... The lesson?: Do things right, but don't ever stop! 
And dream... 

What if you accomplish it?. Can you imagine? Think big and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Hustle. 

Felix Baumgartner just before stepping off his 24-mile-high:
"I'm coming home" 

Design-think your own map back home or out of it…design it!

 I recommend to you this video: Moonshot Thinking.
Moonshot thinking is about thinking creatively and radically about solving important problems.

+Solve for X event gathered 50 experienced entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists from around the world, who are taking on moonshots—proposals that address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution that could work, and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it happen.


A Process For Random Thinking

Getting to the mindset to thrive your idea: Rational thinking and random thinking

I enjoy the challenge that implies my professional role as a bridge between business and creativity in behalf of customers/persona, but sometimes while itinerating, it is critical that I push the pause button to step out from extreme realism, rational objectivity and data: I need a reality break… I need a less pragmatic kind of comprehension. Enough of rational thinking.

Creative confidence

I rely on my creativity and imagination skills. After years observing and analyzing my own thinking process from a Design Thinking mindset, I know that I need random thinking to advance ideas and as a breakthrough of understanding complexity.
The following is a pattern that works for me. Then again, it is not a system that I have created conveniently: It was already there, therefore I've just detected it and defined it. 

A sparkle of knowledge

After an intense period of analytical concentration I need nothingness in my mind: My rational thinking had its answers now I have to validate with my other self.
When having come to a conclusion after days (or years!) of analysis, or having reached an inner sense of "I see it", "I'm finally getting there" or I've made a connection that lights up my search , what I do is walk away from it. Leave my idea or finding "alone".
I know that intuition is part of DT process and I always consider it in my set of tools, but I don't get carried away by an insight and I try hard not to run into conclusions right away.

Getting in the mood for randomness

I "leave the idea there" and I make the effort to not think about it. 
I give it a rest and....talk to people or do something else...partially true, because what I'm actually doing is confront the world with my new knowledge: Besides talking to people, or engage in small talk, have fun...I also get into a itinerate mindset that implies randomness, wondering, nothingness and image-thinking and go with the flow: I recall any image that has impacted me lately, or it's kept my interest for "no reason",  and I allow me to not to analyze nor rush into conclusions. Instead, I engage in with the world with optimism, knowing by previous experience that I'm heading to the next level of understanding.

Metaphorically speaking, this is a process of building bridges of understanding within yourself.

Is this pattern of thinking universal or not? I don't have the facts, but I do know by experience that this process is a pattern, and going with the flow is part of the Thrownness concept of Heidegger that I relate (in me) to thinking in terms of experience.

I Keep on investigating Design Thinking processes involved in communicating ideas:
More to come.


KISS Design Definition

Digging into design's essence.

Designed by @pauline_gn
KISS is an acronym for "Keep it simple, stupid" as a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided […] 
The principle most likely finds its origins in similar concepts, such as Leonardo da Vinci's "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication", Mies Van Der Rohe's "Less is more", or Antoine de Saint Exupéry's "It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away". 

Bringing simplicity to design definition is not an easy thing to do.

Design definitions are kaleidoscopic in its variety as a reflection of design's adaptability to emerging realities in an always evolving set of old and new contexts that  fall into different patterns and solutions.
Though there is a common pattern that never changes and that is designers commitment to their creative passions.

These are my top five design insights:

  • My favorite definition of design is Bucky Fuller's, one of the preeminent design scientists and philosophers of the last century, who defined design as the intentional rearrangement of resources. Simple and straightforward. Nice. I like the simplicity of designing as creating actionable possibilities that add meaning and value to people: It resonates in me (That is why my blog is call design thinking-in-action)
  • I'm fond of any design definition that involves people: The fact is that there is no design practice without people. Even a modest brochure requires a previous analysis and understanding of its users. Designers become people's experts. Does it sound too simple? Maybe or maybe not.
Designing collectivism and action (get people involve)Looking for meaning and purpose Seeking out positivity and optimism
  • Communication is also a design skill. An ideal design definition should take into account that design is a rational and objective creative practice but it's also communication. Not all design is visual. Some of it is expressed visually, but in fact most of it takes care of how it works, what it is and why and how to communicate it to people. There is a creative storytelling involved in any design practice bond to conceptualize and share vision: Both necessary to share meaning, get people involved and lead vision to action.
  • My KISS definition of design?. We may define design in many ways but its utility (to people, humanity) is the core of its practice. 
The truth about the work of designers? Creating consumes: It is all day, every day. It is a habit, a compulsion, an obsession, a vocation. It's more than a passion driven profession. It's an addiction.

Design is an addictive practice: Once you've experienced what it means to design and be able to affect people in a positive way, you cannot stop looking for more.


Is Design Thinking A Victim Of The Curse Of Knowledge?

Can you imagine not knowing what you know?

Developing a Design Thinking elevator pitch is a good idea to spread its value among with a wider range of people.

"Constellation" by Elia

Wikipedia definition:
"The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias according to which better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people. The term was coined by Robin Hogarth.
Many sensible strategies fail to drive action because executives formulate them in sweeping, general language […].Top executives have had years of immersion in the logic and conventions of business, so when they speak abstractly, they are simply summarizing the wealth of concrete data in their heads. But frontline employees, who aren’t privy to the underlying meaning, hear only opaque phrases. As a result, the strategies being touted don’t stick. The problem is that once we know something  […] we find it hard to imagine not knowing it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. We have difficulty sharing it with others, because we can’t readily re-create their state of mind".
As a senior marketing communication professional and designer, I 'm aware of how easy it is for a Brand to become a "victim" of the curse of knowledge because of an insensible communication strategy. A "cursed brand" lacks a humanized, empathic perspective therefore it fails to share its personality, value and meaning to its stakeholders.

Becoming a human-centered organization must be a business strategy itself.
In a business context is easy to fall into assuming that everybody knows what we know and its also easy to confuse communication with a summarizing of the benefits of a product -even in a bullet point format-. This is a great challenge for brands in 2014 that seek to engage and be "chosen" by actual and potential customers. Brands: You need to be aware of your problem to overcome your "curse"!.

The way out is to conceptualize the strategy and use a concrete language understandable for everyone to share meaning and intentions: Concrete language simplifies a complex reality and a concrete and common language -storytelling- ensures that everyone have a common picture and meaning that they can relate to in a meaningful and personal way.

  1. Do you think that it is also easy to fall into assuming that everybody knows what you know in creative contexts? Sure.
  2. Is Design Thinking a victim of  the curse of knowledge?

I think about it a lot

In fact, my personal purpose of evolving Design Thinking is being as straightforward as I can be to share DT meaning by conceptualizing a definition of the term that could simplely explain What is DT versus the HOW to practice it: In my opinion, a sum of processes is not a definition.

Analizing and applying DT to this issue:

Before the HOW we do it, it's the WHY: Analizing and understanding the WHY comes the definition of the WHAT it is Design Thinking. And that would be our Ariadna's Threat to sharing the value and meaning of DT in a concrete, human-centered language with the stakeholders: Ourselves and the rest of the world.

I'm quite obsessed with keeping ideas as simple as possible for two reasons:

  • Because I truly want to share what I've learned
  • Because I really need an amplified feedback from a wide range of people, not only experts.
My take is to share a simple, easy-to-understand statement: An elevator pitch. A short definition of DT that summarizes what it is and its value as a way to share meaning with non experts.

My2014 DT definition (DT elevator pitch):
"Design Thinking is a creative construction-driven process of thinking, focused in understanding the context of a problem in order to generate integral solutions leading to a collective change by creating value for people and organizations".

This is briefing the insight I wanted to share with you.


RFV & My Portfolio Of Insights For 2014

"You have to feed forward if you want feedback“. Matt Kahn. Stanford design professor 

This is my very personal "Request For Vision" (RFV) statement to conclude 2013 and my planning for 2014.

Why did I start blogging?. I needed to force myself to articulate my ideas for a broader audience to  advancing my thinking on design and management. I wanted feedback. 
My goal was to create my communication design and develop my own tools and Design Thinking processes and capacities related to sharing ideas: Extroverted my design process and advance my knowledge by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And, since I wanted/needed to test my ideas with a global audience, I had to add more complexity to my design project by writing in English (I'm Spanish).

I designed an investigation on Design Thinking processes involved in communicating ideas on social media. In 2012 I was focused on communicating by writing about Design Thinking-in-action, and in 2013 I focused my investigation and analysis in the process of communicating by talking about Design Thinking related insights.
Applying a theory from one context to another has always limitations, so my main concerned was to "sense" that I was evolving my understanding in every post I wrote. My technique?. Observation and watch carefully for changes in me and in the context and make course corrections when it didn't feel right. And no sticking to a fixed idea: I focused on my own process and in the evolution of my thinking patterns and the conscious practice of new capacities to broaden frames of reference that included the use of instinct and flowing, randomness, networking and co-creation. And a very clear writing philosophy: Keep it simple. 
So far I have defined the communication pattern that suits my purposes and my vision and fits with my personality. I could considered myself an expert in applying Design Thinking principles to communication. 

I'm ready for the next move:

I wrote a post in 2013 titled Intersection Of Science & Design Thinking Scientific studies  reveal that depending on the place that you occupy in a network (like this one), you might be able to predict the future, meaning that people located at the central places in that network (pattern), would be aware of information before it gets to people situated at the edges of that network. (This is my interpretation of Nicholas Christakis' article). Therefore people located at a central position and with a pattern recognition capacity, could
Predict the future of the edges (the rest of the community)
The questions is… Have I had the instinct to position myself at a center of the network? Have I recognized patterns, connected any dots to predict tendencies?

I'm going to play "being a hub for design" and I`m going to predict the following trend topics on design and management: 

These are the core ideas that I'll be exploring and writing about in 2014.

  • Communication as a core process of Design ThinkingForward thinking for getting feedback.  By Extroverting my design process I've advanced my knowledge and connection with current reality (context). I believe it's a MUST for a design thinker learning and experiencing social communication  processes. Design yours. 
  • Visual Thinking: Boost to this design discipline that makes your thinking visible to others and foster CO-creation and engagement and alignment to solve problems as a team.
  • On training intuitionUnknowable and uncontrollable knowledge. How to make strategic choices. How to look at a large set of information and discover the inherent connections? 
  • Outsiders: Out of my comfort zone: The advantages to write in a second language. Doubles the effort but is worthy: Getting used to be out of your comfort zone and assuming constant mistakes: Great and generous people out there!. I'll encourage non English to join in the global conversation.
  • Evolution of design thinking: Design 3.0 & 4.0. 

    Mastering context defining, integrative thinking, shaping problems  before they can be solved. Redesigning periphery and organizations. Innovation.

  • Venture capital, Design thinking and the connection economyAnd with the virtual, physical, and social modes of design increasingly converging, we can expect design and how it is practiced to morph and embed in business definitely. 
  • Go local: Design discipline accessible to a majority. How to share knowledge with emerging countries. My personal challenge for 2014. Have to find the best way to do it. 
  • Creativity and management: "A civilization grows when its elite is creative enough to attract inside and outside constituents. by arthur Toynbee is the author of “A study in history“. On Education, the selection and the recruitment of managers.

….And my favorite topic for 2014:


2014 | Evolving The Definition Of Design Thinking

The world is evolving and so are the ways design principles are applied.
(This blog post is the first of my 2013 Design Thinking-in-action conclusions)

Tim Barber – “Welcome to Earth"

My Design Thinking definition for 2014 is the conceptualization of the insights developed in 2013 while investigating Design Thinking processes involved in communicating and spreading ideas on social media. In this updated definition of Design Thinking (see 2013 version), I conceptualize and integrate the organizational and transformation design 3.0 practice; its evolution versus 2013 and the new set of thinking tools and behaviors that I had to reframed -and some times developed- in my every day practice as consequence of the great amount of complexity going on that requires actionable holistic understanding for creating value to people. 

My 2014 DT definition:

"Design Thinking is a creative construction-driven process of thinking, focused in understanding the context of a problem in order to generate integral solutions leading to a collective change by creating value for people and organizations".

Personal and professional competencies involved
  • Learning and experimental mindset
  • Human-centered approach
  • Systems thinking
  • Communication one-to-one and inspirational
  • Insights generator
  • Team player
  • Comfortable with uncertainty and complexity
  • Sense of humor
  • Detailed oriented practice
  • Resilience and a high panic threshold
  • Peripheral vision 
  • Pattern recognition
  • Pasion-driven designer energized by business issues
  • Leadership

Set of methods and processes for developing Design Thinking 

Complex problems need to be approached as a whole first…and then piece by piece… Designers think of a situation following a human-centered set of processes:
  • Frame the Problem: Empathize and Define
  • Generate Novel Solutions: Ideate
  • Make Ideas Real: Prototype and Test
Tim Brown from Ideo defines design thinking processes perfectly: 
"The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. There are three spaces to keep in mind: inspirationideation, and implementation. Inspiration is the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions. Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas. Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives".
Stanford d.chool put together a collection of methods for folks new to design thinking.

What business are we in? Design Thinkers in business

Design Thinkers bring to business a holistic understanding that leads to innovation (value creation):

  • Sense making of complexity
  • Human-centered approach
  • Value finding and delivering
  • A portfolio of insights 
  • Actionable ideas and solutions
  • A plan of action designed to achieve a goal: Strategy

The roles that designers can play in helping to formulate and realize strategies: 
How does design strategy align with your client’s business aims?
This is part of a great article written by David Sherwin, interaction design director at frog, at DesignMind:

"Strategy as a service that designers provide: A designer may provide even more flavors of strategy that impact a client’s business: interactive strategy, content strategy or media strategy, just to name a few. Many of these strategies are closely tied to what should be realized, and how, but they may not be offered by a business strategist.
While it’s tempting to elaborate these strategy types in depth, I think it’s more important to note that these are services that support the delivery of design strategy. Design strategists must be able to string tactics together into a plan that every person at the table can agree upon and execute with confidence. Much of what we design can create new patterns in behavior and can cause business strategies to form in an emergent fashion. But we can’t create a media strategy and claim to be a corporate strategist. Nor can we completely revise a company’s business strategy when formulating a content strategy. What a design strategist can do is help clients visualize how they can reach a set of agreed-upon objectives, with the appropriate tools and resources at their disposal"
Designers may influence strategies within the following areas of a client’s business operations. 
Corporate strategy: Corporate strategy governs how a company intends to sustain its operations over time. Corporate strategy seeks to answer one question: What business are we in? The corporate strategy is manifested through the mission, values, goals and aspirations that a company has set for itself. You’ll also find it in the client’s plans for partnering with favorable firms, merging with competitive firms or acquiring companies or IP to support its interests.
“This area has traditionally been the domain of management consultants, but designers bring a clarity of thought and the power to reduce complicated strategies to digestible images, frameworks and stories, which makes them good candidates to play here,” says Timothy Morey.
Business strategy: Business strategy is a broad umbrella that encompasses the most important ongoing considerations for any corporation, from process optimization to product/service portfolio management to operations, finance and marketing. However, it can almost always be summed up as an attempt to answer this question: How are we going to make money within our market?
Business strategies support corporate needs: Meeting revenue targets, achieving desired market positions, rewarding shareholders, fulfilling stated corporate strategies and more. Many services that design businesses provide, such as product/service strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy are flavors of business strategy and may be generated by a design strategist who has the appropriate expertise.
Brand strategy: Brand strategy is the practice of formulating how a company’s brand—the sum of how the company is perceived through all of its interactions with its customers—is manifested through corporate marketing, communications, product and service design, interactive design and business operations. Designers who work on a company’s brand translate corporate strategies and business strategies into a brand position, which may then touch a company’s product/service strategy and marketing strategy.
Product/service strategy: Product and service strategies help to define and shape the evolution of a company’s portfolio of salable products and services. I use the word portfolio very deliberately, as a corporation’s business strategies are realized through proper investment in their best-performing products and services. While product strategy is often depicted as an outcome of corporate and business strategy, in reality it is often the driver of those “higher order” strategies. A designer with a great product strategy can end up surreptitiously changing the business or corporate strategy of an organization. Think of Apple’s initial foray into the music business with the iPod, or Amazon’s impact on the publishing industry with their Kindle products.
Marketing strategy: Marketers explore a client’s business strategy and product/service strategy, then determine what actions should be taken in the market to better sell a company’s products and services to reach stated business goals. Designers who play in this space may influence product/service strategy and business strategy."

"A strategy has no value if it can’t be acted upon". 


Design 3.0 The OTHER Design

"Before change happens: New seeing happens, new understanding happens, new thinking happens". Humantific

"Today's designers need to become systems designers"  Mark Rolston 

Some of us always were!


The OTHER Design Thinking: Design 3.0.

There is other design outside mainstream design practices such as graphic design, product and service design: Design 3.0 is focused on organizational and transformation design. 
In some way, Design 3.0 unleash the full potential of design and, by doing so, challenges the traditional design practice and the status quo. Design becomes less tangible, more conceptual.

This other design thinking requires a new set of competences such as systems thinking, that integrates analysis and synthesis to create knowledge and understanding to delivering a new perspective and a new solution to a given problem. Design 3.0 is also focused on making sense of complexity, finding meaning and designing a solid bridge between actual reality toward a vision that includes defining the context and creating a new reality for the people in the organization and in the community.
The management scientist Peter Checkland defined systems thinking as "thinking about the world through the concept of “system.” This involves thinking in terms of processes rather than structures, relationships rather than components, interconnections rather than separation. The focus of the inquiry is on the organization and the dynamics generated by the complex interaction of systems embedded in other systems and composed by other systems"

Design 3.0 requires Management 3.0

Design 3.0 applied to organizational design incorporates a Think Blending that requires a new set of competencies such as 

sense making - finding meaning - pattern recognition and pattern defining - creating systems - conceptualizing complexity - universal communication - seeing interconnections - co-creating solutions focused on the people involved in all the process.
The problem is that design is not consider as a core business competence: Therefore, upper management is not taking advantage of these new "thinking tools" to unlock innovation and unleash the full potential of their organizations.

On the other hand, Design 3.0 professionals haven't fully developed a product offering as service designers or graphic designers have: 

I encourage you to design your product considering your potential clients needs asap. And a lot of evangelization is also needed among management, schools, social media, associations and designers energized by business issues! 

Spread the "news".

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