Design Thinking

Disclaimer: Kelley, Tom, 2006 The Ten Faces of Innovation

I'll be having a look at the 10 faces of design thinking and how they fit with the passion I have come to decide on using... art and manga drawing. About 2 years ago, I drew a short manga as it just ended up becoming my main project and I wanted to see where I would go with it. I'll also make use of my favourite series called Bungo Stray Dogs to add a professional manga to the analysis. I had previously made an analogy that design thinking is very kin to the process used by an artist to create a drawing or painting. So today let's go into what are the 10 faces of design thinking. This blog will be made up of 3 different articles to make it easier for my dear reader to read through.

What are the 10 faces that I am talking about to start us off:

    • The Learning Personas
      • The Anthropologist
      • The Experimenter
      • The Cross-Pollinator
    • Organizing Personas
      • The Hurdler
      • The Collaborator
      • The Director
    • The Building Personas
      • The Experience Architect
      • The Set Designer
      • The Caregiver
      • The Storyteller

From this, you can already learn that there are 3 categories that make up the 10 faces of design thinking. Let's have a closer look at them, starting with the learning personas. The first on our list is the anthropologist, they are the people on a team that will set aside any of their own notions and experience to better understand those around them. They will take the time to observe behaviours and develop an understanding of the physical and emotional interaction with the product they are trying to innovate or develop. The anthropologist will go to the people who have first-hand experience, ask them questions and observe them to be able to bring fresh ideas to the table. Now, that we have our first face in the equation of design thinking, how can I bring it back to manga and drawing? Well... when developing the idea for a manga and each of the panels or chapters to come you need references or an understanding of the subjects that may appear. To do this the artist needs to observe and see the interactions of the people surrounding the areas that will appear in the manga. This can be in terms of setting, and/or profession...etc. But not only would it be used inside the story! It would also apply to those who will be reading this manga! Who is the target audience and understand what they need? Let's use the example of Bungo Stray Dogs, in the development of each character the author needed to have a massive amount of knowledge of authors of the past to clearly and intricately recreate the authors into his story and for the audience to be absorbed by the characters and setting. However, he not only had to develop an understanding of people who have already passed on from this world, he also had to understand who would be reading his story and what they craved or needed. 

"This story is not for people who are good at living. In this world, there exist people who are so good at living that they do not need a "story" at all. They are the ones who think that stories are, after all, just a pastime for your hobbies, that they are not necessary for life, and therefore it is a waste to spend money on such things. I did not assume such people to be readers from the beginning. I cut them off. On the other hand, there are certainly people who need stories like oxygen still. I always hope that Bungo Stray Dogs will become the oxygen for such people. They are the "lost ones" that Dazai talked about." - Interview Answer of Kafka Asagiri.

The anthropologist is about learning about the people involved in the product. For Bungo Stray Dogs, Kafka Asagiri understood and observed that he was creating his story for the people who are struggling and bad at living. He understood each of the authors and his characters and he was able to design a story that would bring a sense of kinship* to his audience and help them feel like they could go on even with the pain they feel. He also observes his audience well enough that he knows how to emotionally affect the users of his product.

Let's move on to our next face, the experimenter. The experimenter is constantly looking to do new prototypes, learning from each trial and error. For this example, I would like to talk about my experience as an artist and have drawn my own short manga. The process of drawing each panel is a step in prototyping the panel to see what fits the best. I would create the panel size of other sheets of paper. Prototyping the potential ideas on the extra sheets of paper and seeing through trial and error which would fit and convey the best meaning to the other panels and to the audience. In this process, you can end up drawing the ideas you have a multitude of times just to learn what could be the best product and even going as far as to save the past trial runs to possibly use later in the storyline.

The last in the learning personas is the cross-pollinator. For this face, we find the person who will explore and use different industries and cultures to fit the unique needs of the audience or customer. They create their product through the juxtaposition of unrelated ideas or concepts. In a very zig-zag manner let's use Bungo Stray Dogs again to explore this face. Now you may be thinking how can I bring this face to Bungo Stray Dogs... but let me tell you that Kafka Asagiri must be a genius at design thinking as the product and experience he delivers is delivered perfectly to the audience he targets. So how can I use Bungo Stray Dogs to explain cross-pollinators... hmm.... well it has to do with how he created his world. He didn't just invent a new character and their relations, he made use of real people and literature relating to them. He took manga and mixed in, authors/literature, psychology, flower language, and different cultures. He took authors that people already knew and blended them with the stories they had written. Following that he realistically depicted their deep psychology and made use of flower language and clothes to give symbolism and meaning to each and every one of them. Now maybe you are thinking about how this can all fit together in a detective/mafia story... well let's add abilities that are named after or quoting the title of one of their novels/poems. Each idea blends together to create a new product for his target audience. The cross-pollinator will make use of all the world has to offer to use in their design thinking process.

... I'll be honest at this point... I have all told you about 3 of the faces of design thinking and I do worry about where my examples will bring us next... Will Bungo Stray Dogs be brought up again or will I finally move on... I mean I probably won't move on hahaha! I do intern for a company that all love Bungo Stray Dogs! However, manga design thinking is interesting as design thinking is found in so many layers of the creation of a manga that it's like falling into a rabbit hole. It's found in the understanding of the audience, in the creation of the setting and the characters, in the development of the plot, in the drawing process and in the intricate levels of prototyping each layer involves.

Congratulations on getting through the first part of this adventure through the 10 faces of design thinking. If you are still interested in completing this quest for knowledge and Bungo Stray Dogs then please find the next location: The Organizing Personas!

*Kinship: A person who kins may feel closely related to a character involuntarily, or they may choose to kin characters.

*Mangaka: Japanese word for a manga writer/artist.





In today's article, I will be referencing Jon Kolko, Design Thinking Comes of Age. The main question I will be addressing is why design thinking is important for organizations. I found that while reading through this article they used an important sentence that greatly helps in answering this question, “Design thinking is an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing.” If you had the opportunity to read my last article, you may remember that we said design thinking brings a more human-centered focus to products, marketing, branding and services. Design thinking has a set of principles that create its process some of the most well-known are empathy with users, a discipline of prototyping, and tolerance for failure. By following the principles of design thinking, people are able to bring ideas to life that will impact the users and create an emotional experience for them.

With the changing of the times, companies have started to realize that design isn’t just for the creative group in the backroom but the whole company culture. By changing the whole company to a design-focused one, the company can better connect with their target market and understand them to provide the best empathic service. When considering that the society we live in is based on consumer satisfaction and customer experience, companies need to create design thinking in the very company to better provide human service for the customer. The example given by Kolko was of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ Center for Innovation. Instead of using a spreadsheet, they chart the changes in their veterans through a customer journey map. This allows them to understand the veterans’ emotional highs and lows when they are interacting with the VA. By using an alternative way of looking at a problem, they create an effective tool to understand and communicate with the customer and how they can strategically change the company's organization.

When an organization is design-centric, they will have constant prototypes for each new idea, product, and service, it develops. With the use of diagrams and artefacts, the organization is able to explore the problem space, so with the creation of prototypes, the organization can investigate the solution space. Prototypes are a way to communicate ideas, they are the single most pragmatic behavior the innovative firm can practice. With the integration of design culture, companies need to change their tolerance for failure. Design thinking is an understanding that the process of innovation is rare to get right on the first try. Failure is a part of the process of prototyping. Even successful companies like Apple, have products that don’t meet the same level of achievement in the marketplace as others. Some of the deciding factors to the success of a product is if they are built on an emotional value proposition instead of focusing on what the competitors offering.

So, to bring today’s article to a conclusion, over time corporate leaders have started to acknowledge how important design thinking is to the success of their companies. Taking design from the backroom and making it the main culture for the achievement of the company. These companies are able to offer unique opportunities for humanizing technology and products and services that resonate emotionally with the employees and target market. With the implementation of design thinking companies connect better to the public and are able to reach further heights.



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?