Sunday, April 10, 2011

Taking The Quotes Out Of "Design Thinking"

Bruce Nussbaum, a design thinking thought leader and a professor of Innovation and Design at Parsons The New School of Design, recently wrote that Design Thinking Is A Failed Experiment.

He claims that:

"Design Thinking has given the design profession and society at large all the benefits it has to offer and is beginning to ossify and actually do harm."


I would argue otherwise. Design thinking is not a catchphrase anymore, and that perhaps is an issue for someone like Bruce who wants to invent a new catchphrase to sell his book. When I tweeted his post, Enric Gili - a friend, co-worker, and a design thinker whom I respect - had to say this:

I couldn't agree anymore. I have learned, practiced, and taught design thinking, for living. I have worked with folks from IDEO, closely, very closely. I have mentored students at Stanford and I live and breathe design thinking. I don't think of it as a method that goes out of fashion. For me, it's a religion, a set of values, and an approach that I apply to all things that I do on daily basis.

I have taken the quotes out of "design thinking".

Just as I don't get excited by the rounded corners and gradients of Web 2.0 I don't think of design thinking as voodoo dolls. To some, this appears to be a failure of design thinking. Design thinking has gone mainstream; it is not dead. What is dead is a belief that it's a process framework that can fix anything and can even cook dinner for you. Design thinking is an approach that codifies a set of values. Design thinking is not an innate skill. It can be taught, gained, and practiced.

"I place CQ within the intellectual space of gaming, scenario planning, systems thinking and, of course, design thinking. It is a sociological approach in which creativity emerges from group activity, not a psychological approach of development stages and individual genius."

Design thinking is ambidextrous; it advocates abductive as well as deductive thinking. The "design" in design thinking is an integrative discipline. As my boss used to tell me, you can't have Ph.D in design. Unless you're a smartypants clever clogs, it doesn't make sense. If CQ is a sociological-only approach, it fundamentally defies the inclusive and integrative values of design, which is a vital driver for creativity.

"It’s 2020 and my godchild Zoe is applying to Stanford, Cambridge, and Tsinghua universities. The admissions offices in each of these top schools asks for proof of literacies in math, literature, and creativity. They check her SAT scores, her essays, her IQ, and her CQ."

It's 2020 and IDEO has gone out of business and so is I am applying for a new job and they measure my CQ. I miserably fail at this CQ thing, perhaps. Do I care? Absolutely not. I have got my design thinking value system that may not be catchy to sell a book, but good enough to get my job done, spectacularly.

Creative Quotient? Give me a break.

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