So, what is actually a difference? Is every designer already a design thinker? And how come that everybody could be a design thinker? Where is therefore the role of design as such?
The evolution from design to design thinking is the story of evolution from the creation of products to the analysis of the relationships between people and products, and from there to the relationship between people and people.
Author Tim Brown in the book Change by Design claims that “The natural evolution from design doing to design thinking reflects growing recognition on the part of today’s business leaders that design has become too important to be left to the designers. This evolution from design to design thinking is the story of evolution from the creation of products to the analysis of the relationships between people and products, and from there to the relationship between people and people.”
Design thinking is an approach that could be used by individuals or teams to generate breakthrough ideas that are implemented and that therefore have impact. This seems a very powerful point in case. Ideas as such are actually seldom implemented. With design thinking you start by questioning the problem as such. And the difference between designer and a design thinker is probably the best shown where author explains three spaces of innovation.
Three spaces of innovation
First space or prototyping
While (professional) designer may require a fully equipped model shop to build prototype, design thinker is able to “build” prototype almost everywhere, be that cafeteria, a boardroom or a hotel suite, as author mentions. Speed is the greatest advantage here. Not to mention costs. Because it is several times better to fail at prototype as to fail with the real service or product. This space is and should always be inspirational.
Second space or ideation
Is used when we know that prototype is the way to go ahead. This space is used to help refine the idea and improve it. Design thinking team might need to turn to outside experts here. Again, it is still fairly smart to return to the first step if you get stuck. Thing worth remembering is that time to first prototype is a good measure of an innovation culture. Yours or of organization of yours. “Storyboards, scenarios, movies, and even improvised acting can produce highly succesful prototypes — the more the better.”, says the author.
Third space of innovation
You should think of this spaces rather in circles. But in this one you should know that you have a good idea. And again, also in implementation space the habit of prototyping again plays an essential role. By this space (or time) you should know you have a good idea.
“The next generation of designers will begin looking at every problem—from adult illiteracy to global warming—as a design problem.” —Tim Brown, IDEO
Whether you are designer, design thinker or everything in between, by applying design thinking we are able to Think Big. By asking yourself: “How might we?” approach to global warming, transportation problem or unhealthy eating we just might find a solution to encourage kids to eat more healthy food.
So dream big. Think Big. Design.
Tim Brown. 2009. Change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation.