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2014 | Evolving The Definition Of Design Thinking

Posted on: 29 dic 2013

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". 

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