Design Thinking: Fresh Perspectives on a Classic Methodology

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For all the current excitement around design thinking, its foundational practices of empathizing with end-users, prototyping, and testing are hardly new. One need only look to sectors such as fashion, furniture, and architecture, to name but a few, to see that for many professionals the human-centric approach to problem-solving has long been a part of standard practice. Yet to adopt the same methods in the corporate world is something of a departure. It was not until the 1990s that ‘design thinking’ gained currency and began making its way into the business executive’s lexicon.

Back then, the term denoted little more than a loosely defined set of methods and ideas. Today, design thinking has been both refined and expanded to the point where it powers its own economy of academic research, business school courses, self-help-style instruction manuals, and online content. And while the latter is surely a boon to the armchair enthusiast, the sheer quantity of material available can overwhelm as much as it enlightens. That’s why we’ve curated a selection of resources on design thinking for those who want to better understand this innovation methodology and what it is capable of:

Can Design Thinking Save Business? This piece from the Wall Street Journal reflects on the current state of design thinking as applied outside traditional design fields. The writer asks, is design thinking just a fad or is it genuinely helping companies create better products and services?

Why Design Thinking Works Business administration professor Jeanne Liedtak uses this article to argue for the benefits of design thinking. Calling it a ‘social technology’, she provides examples of how the methodology has helped organizations grow.

Natasha Jen on Design Thinking In this video lecture award-winning designer Natasha Jen argues that by introducing more critique into design thinking, the methodology will generate a greater number of novel solutions. Without criticism, Jen believes that the answers design thinking produces will be little better than those we might arrive at through simple intuition.

The Divisiveness of Design Thinking In part a response to Natasha Jen, this long read provides a history of the evolution of design thinking. Author Jon Kolko, the founder of the Austin Center for Design, reflects on how the spread of design thinking has elevated the role of the designer within the modern organization.


Time for design doing

The range of opinions on design thinking is a testament to its influence as a school of thought; there are few industries where innovators have not sought to apply its methods. And while it may be healthy to maintain a certain level of skepticism, there is only one way to know if design thinking will work for you. Find out how we can help you put the latest innovation methodologies into practice.

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