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Is Design Thinking A Victim Of The Curse Of Knowledge?

Posted on: 27 ene 2014

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.

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