Design Thinking Blog

listening in on the conversation

No Gravatar

Overview of Article: There is a distinct skill called “Design” that is getting lost in all of the focus on Design Thinking.  As schools try to create multiple options for students, they are getting away from actually training the classical Designer.

Thoughts on this Article: I like Gadi and his insights. He is a hand’s on, real world designer that understands the demands that come with clients who expect quality.  This article reminds all of us that the whole Design Thinking movement is not simply the progression of Design, but rather the cousin of Design (I would say the brother of Design is the CAD). It is important that we do not diminish classical Design as we engage the growing world of Design Thinking, and that our schools find a clear way to distinguish between the nuances that are emerging.

Original article and discussion HERE at FASTCOMPANY.COM

American Design Schools Are a Mess, and Produce Weak Graduates

Famed designer Gadi Amit laments the lackluster quality of job applicants and their portfolios and wonders: Are design schools failing their students?

As head of a major Silicon Valley industrial design studio, I review hundreds or even thousands of portfolios every year. It is an essential part of my job as I look for the best people to join our growing team. Because the right mix of talent is so crucial to our success, I make it a principle to review every portfolio sent to us myself.

That commitment puts me in a bit of a tight spot, as I struggle to find the right way to say the right things to people whose high hopes I’m forced to dash. Despite the recent surge in interest in design careers, the quality of candidates’ portfolios seems to have stagnated or even diminished.

The problem has become increasingly acute. I’m eager to hire the next great class of designers, but to my dismay–and the dismay of many young hopefuls who’ve often spent many years and thousands of dollars preparing to enter the industry–I’m finding that the impressive academic credentials of most students don’t add up to the basic skills I require in a junior designer.

The quality of recent grads has stagnated or even diminished

Simply put, the design education system today is failing many aspiring young students. Read the rest of this entry »


Open Source Workshops

Posted by @dTblog under Articles, Design Thinking Teams
No Gravatar

Overview of Article: This is a look at Open Design City, how it came into being, and what the implications might be if this concept emerges as a solid trend.

Thoughts on this Article: OK – this is just marginally related to Design Thinking, but I thought it was worth making it available.  The underlying concept here is getting the end users involved in the actual creation and production process.  In a sense, it is taking Design Thinking and giving the end  users the actual tools to make what they think would work.

While that may sound fun – and probably would be a lot of fun to do – there are problems.  There is a reason that the DT process includes a collaborative process of varied perspectives.  It keeps the product or service from becoming self serving or ineffective.  Having the end user as the designer/creator/user would seem to be a very limiting perspective.

Original Article and comments HERE at FastCompany

A Peek at the Future of DIY: Open-source Workshops

Every product is beta!

DIY reigns in the virtual world. With so many old points of friction removed, we can freely and cheaply build our own blogs, e-books, and Web magazines. But making real, live stuff still seems like a slog reserved for those who know their way around a bandsaw.

Not anymore. The open-source revolution is putting product design in the hands of regular Joes. Take Berlin-based Open Design City (ODC). It’s a workshop in which anyone can learn to make just about anything, whether a bioplastic wallet (above) or a lamp made out of sweaters (up top). The recipe is simple: Gather people willing to share ideas and collaborate. Teach them to use a few power-tools. Then make things — cool things, not junk even your mother’d be too embarrassed to display.

It’s a movement that has the potential to upend traditional modes of industrial design and manufacturing — and even change how we consume products. “I strongly believe we’ll see more spaces emerging like this,” says Christoph Fahle, of Open Design City. “It’s not so much about scientific development, because this work doesn’t require rocket science. It’s more about creating the social interactions that invent new things. If you look at Facebook, it wasn’t just its technology that changed society; rather it was the social idea.” Read the rest of this entry »


Design Thinking at the Zoo

Posted by @dTblog under Articles
No Gravatar

Fast-Company-Logo_350x92Overview of Article: Chip and Dan Heath offer some very interesting options on solving tough problems through cross-disciplinary approaches.

Thoughts on this Article: I enjoy the Heath’s writing style and ability to find new and creative ways to present information.

Original Post HERE at FastCompay

A Problem-Solver’s Guide to Copycatting

By: Dan Heath & Chip Heath

Antartic Icefish, Scan, x-ray, digestion, made to stickFISH TALE The Antarctic icefish digests oils in extreme cold. That process offers lessons and inspiration for cold-water stain-fighting detergents.
Instead, look for the folks who have already solved them.

Your business has a big problem. You’ve thought about it, but you can’t seem to crack it. So you consult your colleagues — to no avail. Then you turn to the big guns — your industry’s top experts. They’ve got nothing. (Well, to be precise, they’ve got 40 PowerPoint slides worth of nothing, and you’ve got $225,000 less of something.) Now what? Read the rest of this entry »


Designing for Social Impact

Posted by @dTblog under Articles, Social Innovation
No Gravatar

Overview of Post: Robert Fabricant continues his blogging from a workshop with social innovators.  part one HERE

Thoughts on this Post: I appreciate the points that Robert makes on how to approach social design.  He offers very practical ways to move the process forward.

Live From PopTech: Designing for Impact

Original Post and Comments HERE at

The design process really kicked into high gear on day three–Kevin Starr of the Rainer Arnhold Fellows program and I teamed up for our presentation.


Members of the PopTech fellows program

No one is better than Kevin at getting social entrepreneurs to think clearly about their interventions. He set up some basic components of each fellow’s impact model, including the concise definition of their mission and, more importantly, impact measurement.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I prefer to work backwards from impact, rather than forwards from mission in the social innovation design process. It really clears a lot of things up fast. If you know the specific impact that you are trying to achieve, the steps to get you there become very clear. And the organization that you need to drive those steps emerges quickly. With a group that has this kind of creativity and capacity it is all about focus. Read the rest of this entry »

No Gravatar

Overview of Post: Robert Fabricant is leading a group of Social Innovators through steps of the Design Thinking process during a conference.

Thoughts on Post: Robert touches on one of the biggest challenges that Design Thinking faces when applied to the social/human application:  How do you create an effective rapid prototyping experience?  I look forward to reading his thoughts on this.

Original Post HERE at FastCompay

Live From PopTech: Bringing Design to Social Innovators

4017851409_ebcfbee24c_bBY Robert FabricantWed Oct 21, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Robert Fabricant will be reporting live this week from PopTech’s 2009 conference, America Reimagined.

Every year (at least for the last two) I have had the honor of serving as part of the core faculty of the PopTech Fellows Program. This means I’m involved in the planning stages for this five-day retreat. No matter how much time I spend preparing for the program, I’m always astounded when I finally meet the fellows. It’s difficult to comprehend the variety of innovations that this incredible group is driving, from virtual mobile phones and paper diagnostics to batteries made of common soil and building materials made of mushrooms. What’s even more astounding is the fact that the people driving these ideas are both incredibly special and shockingly ordinary.

My role is to introduce them to the design process–to provide some tools to help them think through and challenge the assumptions they’re making about their interventions. As always, I’m struck by how open-minded and creative these social innovators are (otherwise they would not have achieved anything close to the outcomes they’ve already seen). Creativity is not something they chose as an identity or practice–it’s a means, not an end. They many not spend a great deal of time talking about design, but research, prototyping, and abductive reasoning are at the heart of their work. Read the rest of this entry »

No Gravatar

tim-brownOverview of Article: This is an interview with Tim Brown on How Design Thinking can help bring solutions to some of the world’s current challenges.

Thoughts on this Article:  This is a brief interview that could have had a great deal of substance if it were longer.

Original Article HERE at FastCompany

BY Linda TischlerMon Sep 28, 2009 at 7:07 AM

Better ballot design could have changed the results of the 2000 election. A better design for information sharing might have prevented 9/11. Now, could design thinking help fix something fundamentally broken in American democracy: how we engage in national debate?

Whether the topic is climate change, financial regulation, or health care reform, when asked to “discuss amongst ourselves,” the conversation devolves into who can shout the loudest, hurl the nastiest epithets, or pervert the facts to fit their own agendas. Can this process be saved?

We spoke to Tim Brown, CEO of famed design and innovation firm, IDEO, and author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, (and Fast Company expert blogger) to see what might be done. Read the rest of this entry »


Avoid the words “design thinking’

Posted by @dTblog under Articles
No Gravatar

Overview of Article: This is an interview with David Butler, the 43 year old master design strategist for Coke.  He gives his views on how to be effective using Design Thinking in the retail market.

Thoughts on this Article:  Wow.

Original Article at Fast Company (HERE)

Meet the man with a nearly uncontainable design challenge: making Coke even bigger (and staying ahead of Pepsi).

By Linda Tischler

Photograph by Jake Chessum

The image on the Webcam is grainy but unmistakable: a blond woman, likely in her thirties, steps up to a shiny silver soda-fountain machine at a fast-food restaurant in Atlanta and plants a fat kiss on its side. The moment is unscripted and, as far as the woman knows, unwitnessed by anyone except a girl who appears to be her daughter, busily filling her cup. If great design is all about creating a bond between your product and your customer, this is clearly some kind of mechanized Cyrano de Bergerac, brokering the ardor between a consumer and her Diet Cherry Coke.

The reason for this public display of affection? It might be the fountain’s astounding array of choices, more than 100 different Coca-Cola variants, including exotic hybrids such as Minute Maid Raspberry Lemonade, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke With Lime, Orange Coke, and Fanta Peach. Or it could be the machine’s intuitive, glowing screen, with its play-ful interface. Or the appeal might be more primal, what the Pietmontese call geddu: Its studly curves and elegant grillwork were sculpted by designers at Pininfarina, stylists of the Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo. Read the rest of this entry »


Beyond Design Thinking…

Posted by @dTblog under Articles, Process
No Gravatar

devOriginal Post Fast Company Blog Overview: Dev Patnaik gives us the background of P&G’s remarkable story, and the innovation that drove it.  Dev offers a bold challenge to the concept that Design Thinking was the solution, and instead offers the idea of Hybrid Thinking as the real answer.

Thoughts: While I agree with A LOT of this article, (99.99%), I think that Dev overlooked the fact the it was the designers that were put into the system that ultimately brought the results.  Even though Claudia Kotchka used “Hybrid Thinking” to figure out what needed to be done, it is unfair to say that the mainstream industrial design thinking process was not the vehicle for the change.  This article has prompted me to write a personal post that will look at the use of the term “Design Thinking” and give people a solid understanding of how they can build the process into any environment.

Forget Design Thinking and Try Hybrid Thinking

BY Dev PatnaikTue Aug 25, 2009 at 3:51 PM

When A.G. Lafley was named CEO of Procter & Gamble during the summer of 2000, the task of turning the organization around looked overwhelming. The price of a share in the consumer packaged goods giant had declined by nearly 55% in just two months. The company was missing revenue and profit targets as it learned to grapple with the Internet and new global competitors. To remain the world’s preeminent maker of useful stuff for the house, P&G needed to make a lot of changes very quickly. Lafley saw design as being central to P&G’s transformation. Design promised to unleash the creativity of the organization and find new ways to unlock value that a marketing-driven company might not have discovered.

Read the rest of this entry »


Was Einstein a Designer?

Posted by @dTblog under Articles
No Gravatar

BY Gadi Amit

Oringinal Post on Fast Company Tue Jun 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Overview of Article: Amit takes on the notion that people who engage in Design Thinking are really designers. His general argument is that there is a big difference between the thinking process and actually being a designer, and that using the term Design Thinking is actually demeaning to designers.

Thoughts on this Article. This one is sure to hit a nerve in the Design Thinking community.  Amin makes several great points, but the main focus is on the term “Design Thinking”. I expect this to be one of the early challenges to the term.  Good stuff!!

einsteinIn his recent post, “Design is Too Important to be Left to Thinkers,” Robert Brunner made a good point about how every Tom, Dick, corporate strategist, and engineer is now calling himself a “design thinker.” This issue needs a deeper look. In 1921, Albert Einstein won a Nobel Prize for his work on the photoelectric effect, based on a paper he published in 1905. The physics behind every solar panel was effectively described and understood by Einstein. Does that mean Einstein was a designer?

I’m guessing if he were living today, many design institutions and pundits would rush to declare him “The Grand Designer of All Things Solar!” However, I would disagree. Einstein is obviously one of humanity’s greatest minds, absolutely the gold-standard for creative thinking, and one seriously interesting character. Still, not a designer.

Read the rest of this entry »