Designers in Design Thinking

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Braun, Erika; Moreland, Jessica; Sanders, Emma; Gill, Carolina
Series: E&PDE
Institution: The Ohio State University, Department of Design, USA
Section: Design Education in Business and Industry
Page(s): 302-307
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


esign thinking as a tool for innovation. While its popularity has opened up new and exciting opportunities for all design professions, when design thinking is packaged as a strategy to deliver innovation it is often implemented like a linearly gated step-by-step process. Thus the value and effectiveness of creativity offered in design thinking is weakened and the results are incremental at best. In these cases, designers, design consultancies, educators as well as business strategy firms have separated the tools and methods of design thinking from the mastery needed to use them. A designer’s creative process is iterative, messy, uncertain, and often leads to failed attempts and frustration. These characteristics are inherent to its organic nature, but ambiguity and learning from failures often lead to opportunities to innovate past the comfort of certainty and status quo. In an attempt to develop an organized and reliable design thinking process for the business culture, we have diluted the role of the designer as the expert capable of navigating, managing and leveraging opportunities from the creative challenge. This design mastery is a necessary component to successful innovation teams just as much as mastery with analytical tools and processes, verbal communication, technology and business. This paper offers insight into the adoption of design thinking at a large university in the United States. The authors interviewed students and faculty from Design, Engineering, and Business who have participated on multidisciplinary teams seeking innovation. Though disciplinary tools and methods are successfully borrowed or adapted within multiple fields, this paper suggests that the discipline-based mastery of skills is essential for those tools and methods to be used to their fullest potential.

Keywords: Design thinking, innovation, industrial design, disciplined based expertise


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