Tag: Design Thinking

07
Nov

Methodology Ethics

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Embracing a New Era

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter posts to his LinkedIn blog:

Hello again Humantific readers. This weeks tricky topic: Ethics in the context of design thinking. While reading a recent thread posted by someone in one of the LinkedIn Design Thinking groups on the topic of industry ethics I started to write a few comments on this always difficult subject. The tiny “comments” box was too small for my text so I will make this into a brief blog post here. Yes, somewhat by this accident I started writing about a subject that has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time. It is something that occurred to us when we were working on our recently published book: Innovation Methods Mapping: Demystifying 80+ Years of Innovation Process Design.

The topic of community ethics is a rather dry but important one and I was somewhat surprised by the focus of that Design Thinking group thread in which these questions were initially asked: What is the ethical grounding of design and design thinking? This includes what work one chooses to do as well as how one approaches the actual design. Are designers responsible for the ethics of their [output] designs?”

See the entire post here:

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01
Oct

DesignThinking Arguments Roundup

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Making Sense of  “Design Thinking is Bullshit”

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter posts to his LinkedIn blog:

Hello Humantific readers. Summer is winding down here in New York City and a new season peaks around the corner. This week we are sharing some reflection that we undertook during the summer regarding the near and dear slippery topic of Design Thinking. Between client projects we were reflecting on the nature of various arguments seen over the last few years. As a company we don’t actually sell Design Thinking but the founders of Humantific come from design backgrounds and the changing nature of design remains central to our practice.

Those of us who have, in addition to presenting at conferences, also been participating in community discussions here on the global LinkedIn platform, seen a lot of proverbial water pass under the Design / Design Thinking bridge since the fire-hose of discussions began numerous years ago, particularly online. As a steady stream of new people have entered the subject terrain and old-hands decide, for one reason or another, to weigh in from various directions, arguments tend to appear, reappear and rereappear. At this point, a vast avalanche of arguments pro, con, and somewhere in between are well known to many of us.

In our reflection we were thinking that a little roundup of arguments and some analysis might be useful to share at summers end when several readers directed our attention to a presentation made recently by Pentagram’s Natasha Jen provocatively entitled “DesignThinking is Bullshit”.

Forceful, critique oriented and dramatically delivered, we noticed that inside the Pentagram presentation were numerous argument streams that have appeared at various moments in the online discussion groups over the past few years along with a few not seen before. Not sure exactly what the intention was meant to be but Pentagram was now in 2017 tabling one specific set of neighborhood assumptions and the interconnected arguments in high-profile conference presentation form.

I was reminded of how diverse the design community of communities is in all its richness, certainy and uncertainty, understandings and misunderstandings, perfections and imperfections. Clearly the certainties of one design neighborhood can become very uncertain when transferred to another.

Without the understanding that different design neighborhoods, tackling different scales of challenges with different methods do now exist the picture around Design Thinking commentaries could look very confusing.

Digesting all of that we decided it might be most useful to our readers at this point in time if we published our Design Thinking Arguments Roundup as an alternate perspective on the subject. Not meant to be Pentagram vs Humantific this is more like Many Others + Pentagram + Humantific…:-)

Indeed we discovered that there was a certain cathartic relief in divergently assembling the roundup, instead of focusing on agreeing with or debating one or two arguments. We were guessing that gathering and setting multiple arguments in context might in itself bring some new perspective. We wondered what that writing on the wall might look like.

During the roundup assembly we noted that some arguments have been around for a long time while others are recently arriving. Some arguments are well known to be deeply embedded in the design community. Others are being imported from outside by various parties entering the now extremely activated subject terrain.

Some are strategic arguments while others are focused on tactics. Some suggest challenges, some deny or deflect them. Some offer critism while others suggest solutions. Many are neighborhood specific while others are universal. Some are funny, odd, or nonsensical, while others are seriously serious. Some arguments make no sense at all.

Many have significant implications for both practice and education that are not always widely understood by everyone in the moment. Some arguments have caught fire and gained traction while others were completely ignored by various constituents. Many arguments appearing here we do not subscribe to at Humantific but we are certainly aware of their presence in marketplace conversations.

What became clear in creating this Design Thinking Arguments Roundup is that the subject of Design Thinking remains quite a mess and will likely stay that way for some time as many different parties, with often-conflicting business interests are now, for better or for worse, involved in impacting the conversation.

Right now in 2017 the topic of Design Thinking seems to have evolved from the initial idealized uptake years and is now in the more difficult, more critical; lets see how the rubber hits the road phase..:-) In this phase too, the various arguments keep piling up.

It seems probable that our readers will recognize many, perhaps not all, of these arguments. Suffice it to say that if you want to be involved in a simple, tidy, straight-forward subject, Design Thinking isn’t it!

At the end of this post, as part of this sensemaking exercise we take a shot at mapping the 50 arguments along with 10 Humantific arguments in hope that the story of the arguments in total is perhaps more important then any one argument. It seems likely that many additional arguments do exist.

PS: It’s good and indeed useful to take a deep breath and have a robust sense of humor before reading these 60 argument summaries. Some are rather bumpy. Hope this is useful. Enjoy! :-)

Design Thinking Arguments Roundup 2017:

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04
Aug

Design Thinking Futures [Part 2]

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PART 2 of 2:

GK VanPatter in conversation with Rafiq Elmansy

Rafiq Elmansy: What is your advice to design students in order to help to prepare themselves for the future business challenges?

GK VanPatter: In speaking at various graduate schools what we suggest in general is to look forward not backward. It is great and useful to understand design history and appreciate various design heroes but understand that the marketplace is in forward motion. The arenas of design are changing. First and foremost think carefully about what scale of challenges you are most interested in. There are serious methodology and skill building implications because there is not just one design thinking.

If you want to work on logo and poster size challenges then a 100% invisible, intuitive process might be perfect for you and that arena. If you want to work in the context of organizational change-making or societal change-making where there is high complexity and many disciplines typically involved then more process skill is going to be required. Understand that the diverse worlds of design focused at different scales of challenges, with their various neighborhood heroes, all have their strongly held opinions regarding the process or lack thereof. That will never change. You have to decide which neighborhood, which arena makes the most sense for you to belong to.

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To new generation folks, we also suggest thinking practically, realistically about which scale arena is growing and which is shrinking. Not often discussed in the graduate design schools is that some arenas are growing and some have already rapidly shrunk due to globalization. Some of your old design heroes might have practiced in a now greatly reduced in size arena.

Globalization has ravaged the fee structure of Design 1 and is on its way to doing the same with Design 2, product, service and experience creation. Thus Design 1 is a shrinking commoditized arena while Design 3 and 4 are growing arenas with vastly different fee structures. In part, this explains the movement in that direction by all the major design consultancies as well as the graduate business schools and their graduates.

The tricky part is those arenas also involve different skills and methods.

See the entire Part 2 of the interview here:

27
Jul

Design Thinking Futures [Part 1]

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PART 1 of 2:

GK VanPatter in conversation with Rafiq Elmansy

Rafiq Elmansy: In one of your articles, MAKING SENSE OF: “Why Design Thinking Will Fail,” you classified design thinking into upstream and downstream design thinking. Can you clarify this taxonomy for our readers?

GK VanPatter: Yes certainly. We see a lot of articles online like the now infamous “Why Design Thinking Will Fail” post that you referred to. Our response, posted to LinkedIn contains a reference to the situation that I just referred to above. The impact of the methodology mess that now exists becomes clear in that article. (See link below.)

Regarding upstream and downstream, we created this distinction as one part of a larger taxonomy while researching and writing our recently published book Innovation Methods Mapping to convey important differences in methodologies. In the book, readers can see and make use of the entire taxonomy as a reusable analysis framework. Our goal in creating the analysis lens is not jargon-making but rather to introduce considerations and meaning not previously present.

The terms upstream and downstream relate to the assumed starting points of the methodology. Upstream means upstream from the “brief”, which is a framed or semi-framed challenge. In upstream contexts, one cannot and does not assume to know what the challenges actually might be. Part of the work is to create the interconnected constellation of challenges, often seen for the first time. The everyday context for upstream is complex organizations and societies where many types of challenges tend to exist. Why would anyone assume all challenges on the planet are product or service related? From our open innovation perspective that makes no sense at all.

Downstream is the brief business where much of the traditional design industries (and graduate design schools) have been focused for decades. Most often in downstream methods, the assumption is that the challenge to be addressed is pre-assumed to be related to product, service or experience design regardless of what the challenges actually might be.

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Both upstream and downstream methods are useful. The problems arise when downstream methods are force-fitted into upstream contexts. Today in a competitive marketplace, whether we all like it or not, many graduate design schools are, due to their slow adaptation over a decade, out pitching the quick-fix notion that down is up, that downstream methods are universal, that downstream methods are meta design. That is more about marketing than methodologies. This spin pitching has contributed, not to the making sense of the subject, but rather to the mountain of confusion that now exists and continues to grow. Ultimately that spin will likely undermine the credibility of those advocates, but hopefully not the subject and the interest in adaptive skills.

What we find is that the methodology related sensemaking that we do is welcomed by many and not appreciated by some who would prefer that these differences not be pointed out. Not everyone is going to be a fan of more clarity around the subject of design/design thinking. So be it.

See the entire Part 1 of the interview here:

28
Jun

Clarifying “Design Thinking”

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Forbes vs Humantific

Humantific CoFounder, GK VanPatter offers Humantific readers a deeper level of leadership understanding on the murky subject of “Design Thinking”:

“A recent article appearing in Forbes entitled “Design Thinking: Your Next Competitive Advantage” reminded us that the mountain of confusion around the subject continues to grow. Most articles on the subject of Design Thinking appearing in the business media are well intentioned but many miss the mark, adding to the public confusion on this subject. This seems to be occurring for several different, often overlapping reasons:

A: Many authors assume their specific neighborhood perspectives apply to all aspects of the Design / Design Thinking community, when they don’t. There is no one Design Thinking. Different parts of the design community are engaged in vastly different types and scales of challenges. Working on posters, toothbrushes or applications is vastly different from transforming organizations or problem solving in communities.

B: There is a constant self-reinforcing stream of overly simplistic depictions of Design Thinking in the media which parrot the promotional literature of the graduate design schools whether it makes any sense in the real world or not.

C: Often historical figures are quoted from eras when the operational arenas of design were much less strategic and considerably narrower then they are today. Some historical quotes no longer apply. Others are flat-out incorrect. As design knowledge expands some of these popular old quotes remain relevant while others fall away.

On the one hand it would be easy for us to jump on and go along with the promotional parroting train around Design Thinking but none of that is really advancing leadership level understanding of the subject.

For our Humantific readers we want to offer more. In the interest of clarity for our readers we offer here a different perspective on several dimensions of Design Thinking that were referenced recently in the Forbes article.”

Read the complete post on GK’s LinkedIn Blog.

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31
Jan

Transformations is Published

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More on Transformation By Design

Congrats to Emma Jefferies, Joyce Tee and Kamil Michlewski on the publication of their new book Transformations / 7 Roles to Drive Change by Design. We are delighted to be included in this new book examining how design/design thinking is changing…indeed has already changed!

“Tracking how design has changed in previous book Design Transitions has inevitably led the authors to explore how organisations are changing using design. Design is now the key driver of innovation and change within organisations across the globe. It is therefore important to learn how, when and why to use design to drive change in your organisation.

Transformations documents how design is being used to support change across different organisations, countries and sectors, sharing the stories of experts in their fields at varying stages of their transformative journeys.”

“Expert Interviews” include:

GK VanPatter: Humantific / USA

Peter Coughlan: Consultant / USA

Mark Vernooj: THNK/ The Netherlands

Mariana Amatullo: Design Matters / USA

Brenton Caffin: Nesta / United Kingdom

Christian Bason: Danish Design Center / Denmark

Beatriz Lara Bartolomé: Imersivo / Spain

Transformations / 7 Roles to Drive Change by Design.

27
Jan

Ambidexterity Skill-Building

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Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter writes about the state of “Firm of The Future” Skill-Building. Ambidexterity often appears in numerous depictions of the arriving future originating in the managagement consulting community. What is missing from that picture?

“Hello Humantific readers. In this post we return to the subject of ambidexterity in organizations. The recent report entitled “The Firm of the Future” from Bain & Company is one of the latest management advisory publications pointing out the importance of and shift towards operationalizing ambidexterity in future focused organizations.

“We’re beginning to see what the next generation of successful companies will look like….The firm of the future will manage two types of businesses—“Engine 1” of its core and “Engine 2” of its more innovative businesses.” Bain & Company 2017.

Accenture, Deloitte, Bain & Company, Detecon and others have all recently been offering up similar observations and advice to organizational leaders. Others such as Charles O’Reilly & Michael Tushman of Harvard Business School writing in Harvard Business Review have previously written on the subject reflecting their own research. It is a capacity referred to under different names that include Ambidexterity, Dual Engines, Exploiting/Exploring, Double Excellence, Dual Innovation, Integrative Innovation, etc. With numerous different takes on the subject now tabled, some more practical then others, what they are all talking about is the notion of future oriented firms enabling two engines or streams of innovation, each with different characteristics.”

Read the entire post on LinkedIn here.

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21
Dec

Methods Mapping Book Published

book_mockup_3The new Humantific book by GK VanPatter and Elizabeth Pastor: Innovation Methods Mapping / DeMystifying 80+ Years of Innovation Process Design has just been published!

Years in the works and long overdue we finally crossed the finish line on this one! Wooooo Hooooo!

Making sense of innovation process design is the subject of this new Humantific book.

Big thanks to all who contributed.

View the Preview here.

Buy the book on Amazon here.

07
Dec

Enabling Design Thinking

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Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter writes about one particular “fuzzy misperception wave” often appearing in Linkedin discussion groups.

“With some design thinking related discussion groups on LinkedIn now exceeding 80,000+ members, many new to the subject terrain, it is not so unusual for enthusiastic fuzzy misperception waves to build from one conversation to the next at a rapid rate. Like a fire-hose of run-away freight trains misperception waves seem to appear via social media at volumes that are no longer possible to intercept or comment on.

With everyone busy most practice leaders just let the waves flow hoping they will sort themselves out eventually. Some do. Some don’t. Some fuzzy waves are at times humorous and at other times painful to watch as they take hold and or grow.

Opposite to Donald Trump’s twitter postings, most practice leaders try to select their discussion participations and contributions carefully in consideration of limited time constraints..:-)

In this vein and considering the increasing impact of discussion groups we try to pick and choose which fuzzy misperception waves are important enough to comment on, to make more sense of and or to offer an alternate perspective on for our Humantific readers.

One such misperception wave, popular at the moment is depicting Design Thinking as a “mindset” thing.

Often seen in discussion threads is this murky phrase: “Design Thinking is a mindset not a process.”…On and on it goes being reposted many times by its advocates.”

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Read the entire post here on LinkedIn.

Related:

Humantific: Making Sense of Service Design Thinking

Humantific: Making Sense of Design Thinking & AGILE Method

Humantific: Making Sense of “Why Design Thinking Will Fail”

 

 

 

 

 

22
Nov

Making Sense of Service Design

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Service Design Thinking: Confusion or Clarity?

Humantific CoFounder GK VanPatter has published another post in his popular ongoing “Making Sense Series.”

“Clarity or lack there-of is something that is often difficult to talk about in the design / design thinking community. Not everyone in the community of design communities is up for clarity. Lack of clarity often leads to a confused public. At the moment, mountains of confusion around the subject of design and design thinking exist publicly.”

“Contributing to the confusion we recently noted the UK Government’s launch of its “Design Principles”.

It is really none of our business but from a methods perspective, there seems to be some confused logic there.

Some enlightened person in the UK might ask:

Are these meant to be Digital Service Design Principles, Service Design Principles or Design Principles?

How did you get from “Design Principles” to “Don’t make assumptions” and “make things open” to “Service design starts with identifying user needs.”

Who said anything about presuming, predetermining that the challenges are service related?

This is an assumption often seen in service design logic.”

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Read the full post on LinkedIn here:

 

Related:

Making Sense of Design Thinking & Agile Method

Making Sense of “Why Design Thinking Will Fail.”

Building Strategic Innovation Lab Capabilities

Enabling Organizational Ambidexterity