So what has “Design Thinking” got to do with my business?

  • So what has “Design Thinking” got to do with my business?

    So what has “Design Thinking” got to do with my business?

    What you will learn:

     

    You may have heard of “design thinking” as a new paradigm for dealing with complex problems that arise in many areas including business.

     

    But what exactly is “design thinking”?

     

    To get an understanding of what design thinking is, we can start with the various ways reasoning is applied in logical thought.

     

    New Sam Wilko Advisory Blog by Peter Wilkinson

     

    You may have heard of “design thinking” as a new paradigm for dealing with complex problems that arise in many areas including business.

     

    But what exactly is design thinking?

     

    We can gain some insight into the core what is a rich and complex process with the help of an article, kindly supplied to me by a colleague, titled “The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application” by Kees Dorst of UTS Sydney (let me know if you would like me to forward you a copy).

     

    To get an understanding of what design thinking is, we can start with the various ways we apply reasoning in logical thought. Let’s consider the following simple equation:

     

    What + How = Result

     

    If we know the What (for instance an object such as a ball) and the How (external energy is required to make it move) we can predict the result when we kick the ball (it will fly away!). This thinking process is known as “deduction”.

     

    Alternatively, “inductive” thinking applies when we know the What and the Result in the equation above but not the How. In the case of our example, by observing and experimenting we can determine the process by which a specific ball (say a soccer ball) might be kicked in order to end up in the goal.

     

    In more scientific language, in a “discovery” phase we apply inductive reasoning in developing a hypothesis and in a “justification” phase we apply deductive reasoning by subjecting the hypothesis to critical tests (with a view to dis-proving the hypothesis if possible).

     

    Let’s consider what happens when we change the outcome of our simple equation from a Result to the attainment of Value (for example a client’s expected outcome):

     

    What + How = Value

     

    In this circumstance a reasoning pattern known as “abduction” (loosely known as inferring) comes into play. Abduction may be applicable in simple as well as complex circumstances. With simple abduction (as is typically the case with problems that are routinely solved by designers and engineers) the How (the working principle) associated with the problem is understood and the Value is well defined.

     

    But what if the What and the How are unknown and we only loosely know the end Value we want to achieve? This is where more complex abduction applies in dealing with the circumstances of open, complex problems of which modern organisations are increasingly faced.

     

    One key creative activity out of a wide array of design practices associated with complex abduction is known as Framing, for example:

     

    IF we look at a problem situation from a given viewpoint, and adopt the working principle associated with that position, THEN we may create the value we are striving for.

     

    Framing itself becomes more complex when faced with a paradox, comprising conflicting requirements which appear unable to be resolved. In essence, framing as a process is used to consider conflicting requirements from different perspectives in order to ultimately achieve a satisfactory or even innovative resolution to the problem.

     

    Once a potential solution to the problem has been determined via complex abduction, deductive thinking is applied in qualifying/proving the potential approach.

     

    Inexperienced designers may apply adduction in essentially a random manner. More experienced designers bring to bear a logical methodology and through experience are able to draw upon a wider field of previous projects in solving the problem at hand.

     

    Dorst’s article goes on to explore the application of framing, choosing (very helpfully for me as a guy with a background in transportation) a Case Study with a transport-related element to illustrate the process.

     

    So for businesses, a typical paradoxical problem arises when the What (the business Strategy) plus the How (the current Tactics applied by the organisation) no longer seems to result in Value that clients or customers are prepared to buy.

     

    In this circumstance the What and/or the How could be wrong, the “frame” that drives the implication regarding the nature of the problem could be faulty or maybe the organisation is misreading the Value that the clients want?

     

    Food for thought?

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