The (Premature) Death of Design Thinking

by Kevin Makice

One of my professors at the Indiana University School of Informatics & Computing, Erik Stolterman, recently posted a reaction to some peers in the industry distancing themselves from the term “design thinking.” Whereas critics are seeing the term more as a business catch-phrase, process, or management tool that has grown passe, Stolterman sees it as a more pervasive way of seeing the world:

People have tried to grasp what they are, what their purpose is, what they can deliver, what they can’t deliver, when they are appropriate, and how they relate to each other. To me “design” is a human approach to intentional change at the same level of importance and stature as art and science.

This is an important distinction not only to communicate to the mixed group of professionals working around you, but also in the way a designer approaches the work. Design thinking is a deeply-embedded human response to making sense of and interacting with our world. The constraints of business disallows many things one might imagine, but perhaps the constraints are not the best place for the design process to begin.

Tim Smith of  Red Sky Interactive had a nice saying that applies: “Aim for the moon, and land on the roof.” Gravity is going to keep you from doing what you can’t do.

Transforming Grounds (July 18, 2011, by Erik Stolterman)