Design Thinking

Design Thinking & My Passions

Disclaimer: I make a few references to Brown, Tim, Design Thinking, HBR June 2008.

This may be random to have on this website. However, I was asked to create a blog surrounding design thinking for a course I am taking at university. I'll be honest, I am still trying to grasp what I am expected to create in the outcome of this work... I'll work on figuring it out as I go. So I guess the first thing I should explain to anyone reading is what exactly design thinking is. I've put a lot of thought into how I should go about explaining this. The first important thing to note about design thinking is that it's a process to achieve innovation of a product within a field to meet the target market's needs and wants. Instead of just creating a product, design thinkers gather information to understand better who will use the product and if they have everything they need in the market to make full use of the product. Design thinking follows a process to achieve the desired end result. Inspiration, ideation and implementation are the three main points of the process. 

When beginning the design thinking process, we will first look for inspiration following this will be ideation before reaching implementation. When starting off in our stage of inspiration, Tim Brown explains that we should expect success. To set in motion the resources needed for implementation from the very beginning. With a team of different individuals to ask the questions needed to understand the wants and needs of the public. Observing how they think, understanding some of the constraints, who are the people that are affected the most and so on… It is important for the team to have a workspace for them to think, evaluate and organize their ideas. Following inspiration, we have ideation in which we have the brainstorming process. In the design thinkers' brainstorming, they will build creative frameworks, sketches, and scenarios. They will apply integrative thinking, describe their journey, test trial runs of prototypes and keep the communication alive. Once the prototype has gone through internal testing and user testing, design thinkers move on to the final stage of the process implementation. Implementation is the execution of the vision, to “engineer the experience”. They will create a communication strategy to market the design, bring the product for the business to see and experience the idea and spread the word. Once the process is complete, the cycle will repeat itself.

Now that we have a short summary of what is design thinking, let’s see what Tim Brown tells us about the different profiles in design thinking. He makes mention of five characteristics that are important to find in design thinkers: empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism, and collaboration. Let’s have a short look at each of these characteristics. Let’s start this off with empathy, what does Tim Brown tell us about empathy? He describes this characteristic as being able to view the world through the perspectives of others. This allows design thinkers with empathy to have a “people first” approach to imagining solutions in their innovation that would be more desirable and meet explicit or latent needs. The next characteristic Tim Brown tells us about is integrative thinking. He describes this as the ability to go beyond just analytical processes and to really see the potential and contradictory aspects of a problem. With this skill, they can create novel solutions and drastically improve on the existing alternatives. Following this he gives us a brief but equally important look at optimism. To quote Tim Brown, “No matter how challenging the constraints of a given problem, at least one potential solution is better than the existing alternatives.” Experimentalism is one of the most important bases of any design thinker, innovation comes from a process of trial and error and to achieve this, design thinkers must ask and explore several creative questions and constraints to find a path to a new innovative idea or creation. Finally, we have reached the last but not least of the characteristics addressed by Tim Brown: collaboration. Collaboration is the work between a team of design thinkers working towards the success of a project. To achieve new heights in innovation and match the ever-growing complexity of products, services, and experiences, having a team made up of multiple fields of expertise, experiences and people is the way to go. There is no lone creative genius in the process of design thinking.

I considered this process and thought about how I could relate it to one of my hobbies. I came to a realization that I followed a similar process when working on creating a new drawing. Inspiration is the moment of finding what I want to draw and to practice some études. Following this we have ideation, taking the études done and trying out different sketches of what you are envisioning. Before finally, implementing the different études and sketches and trusting the process as you work on it to shape itself into what you had imagined.

Now you may be wondering why I need to discuss my passions... well that is what we were told to do our design thinking about. I have a few passions and I sincerely have no idea how I could create a project around some of them. SO let's chat about passions! I have a few as I mentioned. My biggest passion is anime and classic literature (especially Asian literature like Japanese). I have at this moment in time watched around 307 animes, I could be considered a walking encyclopedia about anime and manga. In a similar sense, I have a slowly growing knowledge of Japanese literature. Currently, I am working on a personal project with a friend to redesign/illustrate and bind a book of translated poems that only ever had 10 books published. My current work is with a company that works in this field. Following this I have a future project I feel passionately about... however it wouldn't be a project I would want to share until I have started putting it in motion. In a way, I can say that this is my first problem to solve in my process of understanding design thinking from my first-person perspective. 

To bring this article to a close, Tim Brown brings many examples to our attention to further explain what design thinking truly is and how its process conducts itself amongst the different characteristics of a design thinker. In this blog, I have summarized the key points on “What is design thinking?”, “What are the different profiles in design thinking?” And “What is the design thinking process?” What do you make of design thinking?