Clarity: The Next Design Thinking Evolution
For those who might have missed this earlier published interview with Humantific Co-Founder GK VanPatter you can find that document plus his 40+ other published papers in free downloadable form here:
Humantific CoFounder, GK VanPatter tackles another difficult subject posting to his Linkedin Blog.
“Happy summer Humantific readers! It is a super steamy week here in New York City! This weeks’ tricky topic: Our view on the evolution of “Experience Thinking”.
Recently we were inspired to write when it was brought to our attention that over on the now giant-sized 100,000+ member Design Thinking LinkedIn group a thread was bubbling up proclaiming the arrival of “Experience Thinking” right now in 2018! Yes, the proclamation was entitled “Design Thinking Grows Up: Welcome to Experience Thinking”…“Taking Design Thinking to the Next Level”!
Who Knew?!! 🙂
Since Experience Design is part of our own practice history we decided that it might be useful to our readers if we make this subject the focus for this weeks’ post.
Most communities of practice have a time-line and Experience Design is no different. Understanding community of practice timelines can certainly help us collectively and realistically understand, not only the past, but more importantly what is going on right now and what challenges remain.”
See the entire post here:
Long in the making and long overdue, Humantific will publish ReThinking Design Thinking / Understanding the Future That Has Already Arrived coming up in 2018.
Our readers will know that this community sensemaking initiative has spanned numerous years and resulted in many NextD documents, frameworks, blog posts, etc. some of which have been widely published. We decided to formally publish the synthesized key findings of this initiative in this book form that will be available on Amazon soon.
This publication combines observations on the state of design / design thinking methods and includes views into the already arriving, already operating emerging states of next generation design thinking at challenge scales beyond product, service and experience creation.
This book is meant to be a follow up on our previously published book: Innovation Methods Mapping: De-Mystifying 80+ Years of Innovation Process Design.
If you would like to be made aware when this book is published feel free to send us an email: kickitup (at) humantific (dot) com.
Hello again Humantific Readers. In this our last post of 2017 we are by popular request reposting our Design Thinking definitions that have previously appeared in many of our previous LinkedIn blog posts.
As the year comes to a close what we see around the subject of Design Thinking in the marketplace is alot of smoke and mirrors occurring that have confused zillions of people. The design community itself has created much of the confusion and unfotunately clarity leadership from the direction of graduate design education in particular has been less then ideal. Many have conflated Design Thinking Philosophy with Design Thinking Methodology, when in reality, one is not the other.
Humantific seems to be among only a few practices stepping up to point out that Design Thinking cannot be defined philosophically as an open aperature problem solving approach if the actual methods are assumption-based presuming/recognizing only product, service and experience challenges and outcomes. It is no secret that many diverse challenges in organizations and in societies exist that have nothing to do with creating more products, services or experiences. Any skilled methodologist can tell you that open apperture methods and assumption-based methods are two different things. They have different starting points and different outcomes.
This seems elementary but in fact is the central confusion in the marketplace presently, due in large measure to the slow methodology R&D adaptation of the graduate design schools over the course of that last decade. The spinning and selling of philsophy as methodolgy has led to a now widespread Hocus-Pocus effect around the subject of Design Thinking.
The good news is that with organizational leaders becoming more knowledgeable, more savy the Hocus-Pocus Era of Design Thinking is ending. We are optimistic that a new Methodolgy Ethics Era is dawning.
As a practice we are already embracing that era.
[PS: If you are fed up with the Hocus-Pocus Era of Design Thinking and would like to join us in the future feel free to send us an email: kickitup (at) humantific (dot) com]
UPSTREAM IN ORIENTATION:
DESIGN THINKING [Also known as Meta Design Thinking, Strategic Design Thinking and Adaptable Inquiry]
Key Words: Upstream, meta, iterative, human-centered, empathetic, nonlinear, creating, optimizing, insight creation, design research, data/information fueled, visual sensemaking, challenge framing, focus on right challenge, acceleration, adaptive, inclusive.
DOWNSTREAM IN ORIENTATION:
PRODUCT/SERVICE/EXPERIENCE DESIGN THINKING
Key Words: Downstream, situational, iterative, human-centered, empathetic, nonlinear, insight creation, sensemaking, acceleration, creating, optimizing, products, services, experiences.
Hope this is useful to many.
Happy Holidays Humantific readers and goodluck to all!
Humantific: Making Sense of “Why Design Thinking Will Fail” 2017
Humantific: Making Sense of Design Thinking & Agile Method 2017
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:
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! 🙂
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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