It has been a few years since Design Thinking started the battle against the Analytical Thinking. Nowadays in parallel with the emergence of design consultancy firms we can see that it constantly challenges the corporations and their managers in terms of the ability to be creative.
By educating powerful engineers and managers in the last century, people were overpowered by managerial skills which helped the corporations to grow faster and turn to successful businesses. In the meantime, the skill of creativity was exclusive to the artist who did art for art’s sake, with almost no expectation for its ROI.
While approaching the end of the century, corporations started to come up with parallel solutions which made it hard to compete with each other. Over and above they started to have difficulty in finding solutions for rapidly changing consumer trends of new generations, affected by new technologies.
AND DESIGN PEAKS
By developments in product design discipline, corporations and manufacturers noticed that the designers’ power of creativity can be employed as a tool for competition in their business. Well-designed products combined with the fast-pacing technologies brought usability, usefulness and desirability for the customers, features that turn to criteria for making purchase decisions. Therefore the design of the product itself is acknowledged as a differentiator in the saturated markets of the consumerist societies. As a result of this processe design objects were not anymore a masterpiece of a designer with high prices but an affordable solution with attention to its function and form together.
Let me show you one of the permanent members of my bag, the tape measure! Although I haven’t been working for interior design projects for years, I bought and have been carrying this tape measure because it is designed beautifully with a proper function. A simple example for the fact that understanding the customers beyond their shallow needs can bring business opportunities.
WHAT ACTUALLY DESIGNERS DO FOR BUSINESSES?
The differentiation that designers could provide came from not only their creative thinking but also their focus on the users/customers. Their pursue had basically started by studying ergonomics and continued with exploring more complex aspects of human being, the emotional, and even social needs of them.
The shift from creating individual artistic masterpieces to designing useful, usable and desirable solutions according to the target groups’ expectations was actually a revolution in design community itself. With this shift, designers equipped themselves with human scientists’ tools to understand the user/customer better. They had skills to combine their findings with creative thinking and innovation tools in order to design the best solution for the user/customer, not for their own sake.
What Design Thinking actually brought to discussion was to make this level of designs (useful, usable and desirable), enhanced with high technology, viable using business skills. As you can see in the picture below it points to the sweet spot of the intersection amongst people, technology and business to make the real impact.
The visualization was first published by IDEO and referenced repeatedly in design thinking communities.
I will translate the “People” slice here as the ability of designers to understand people- all stakeholders around the problem including the customer, staff, suppliers etc. Capturing their needs, expectations and their own keys to solutions, predicting their next level of needs and expectations, and most importantly; turning them into actionable insights, and thereafter creating concept solutions.
Are short courses in Design Thinking enough to bring the human-centred design mindset (described by IDEO, 2015) to the analytical minds with powerful managerial skills? Alternatively, can reading technology trend reports or taking courses on MBA help designers to draw the business strategies and model these to obtain sustainable results?
In my judgment, the best way is to gather a multidisciplinary team of designers, technologists and businesspeople to work together in all phases of a project in any field. Each one of these experts can understand the topic from their own scope and bring the findings to the group. The lighting bulbs appear when these minds intersect in well-designed discussion sessions during a detailed process that serves to the project.