If you are just getting interested in design thinking – and welcome to Designing Better Libraries if you are new here as well – a recent BrandWeek article could be a good read for getting up to speed on some of the basic principles behind design thinking. Titled “Thinking by Design” this article from aÂ November 2008 issue provides a good overview, quoting design thinking gurus such as Tim Brown and Roger Martin. But the overall goal of the article is to consider whether design thinking can be of help to marketing professionals. While firms such as Procter & Gamble and Bank of America are getting good results not everyone is so sure the design thinking is anything particularly new for marketers.
The approach of the article is to discuss design thinking in three distinct phases of the process: observation, ideation and implementation. Observation is another way of describing the empathic and ethnological part of process – trying to better know the users, their needs and their challenges. In the ideation phase team members analyze what was learned in the observation phase and begin to develop prototypes that might serve as possible solutions to observed problems. Finally, in the implementation phase the prototypes shift into actual products. But what do marketers think of all this?
For some design thinking is not a particularly new concept or practice. One ad agency pro described it as “old ideas packaged with new phrases.” Those who defend design thinking remind skeptics that it’s not a panacea, but merely a process for creating positive change. It’s always good, I think, to have colleagues question the value of new ideas such as design thinking. Doing so can help to strenthen my own understanding of it and my ability to more clearly articulate to others the theory and practice of design thinking.