February 17

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What you could learn from ‘Design Thinking’ by Nigel Cross (2011, 148 pages)

Design thinking is now cool.  Pepsi CEO has credited ‘deign thinking’ with turning her company around (see HBR here), and Stamford has set even set up an institute of design DSchool.

What is design thinking?

“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
– Tim Brown CEO, IDEO

Nigel 2011 book’Design Thinking’ was one of the first to explore this emerging trend emerging in business thinking. Through interviews with some of the world’s top designers he explores their creative processes and motivations.   Nigel also challenges individuals desginers and design team to create a new device for attaching a backpack to a bike.   By observing designers in action, he is able to arrive at some general observations.

There are three key strategic aspects of design thinking:

  1. Taking a broad systems approach to the problem, rather than accepting a narrow problem criteria
  2. Framing the problem in a distinctive and sometimes rather personal way
  3. Designing from first principles

There is a general process (see below), which is iterative, rather than sequential:

  1. Quantify the problem
  2. Generate concepts
  3. Refine concepts
  4. Select a concept
  5. Design
  6. Present

‘Design Thinking’ is an interesting book, with interviews and observations of some truly world class designers.  Well written and stimulating, read this book if you want to explore design thinking.