in Business Design

A challenge to the design thinking/business design community

A recent post from Jess inspired several interesting comments about who designers are really, and how to gauge the maturity of an organization’s design. Unless you really like thinking about this topic, it must seem like an awful lot of navel gazing, which is fine as that’s one thing that makes blogs useful to us: debating half-formed thoughts.

But for me — someone who wants to make an impact on my clients welfare — Jess gets to the heart of the matter when he says, “I don’t know that the term “design thinking” will actually make an impact in the boardroom…” Although I explicitly talk about design thinking on this blog, I don’t think this term will impact the boardroom, at least not directly and not in the short term. It’s esoteric, too easily confused with style/form/function, and suffers from navel gazing. It’s what we do using design thinking that will impact the boardroom. The benefits as a concept are already understood, and to activate that concept in executives’ minds — and for the community to make substantial progress — we must frame the idea of design thinking differently.

No one has framed it well yet, because we’re still discovering it. But perhaps we’re now ready to move forward.

My challenge to the community is to reframe design thinking / business design in a way that will impact the boardroom.

Here’s how I would start framing it…

  1. The pace and complexity of 21st century society present formidable challenges that require us to compliment our judgement thinking with an additional way of thinking which is collaborative, abductive, experimental, personal, integrative, and interpretive (replace with your own definition)
  2. This way of thinking leads us to do (fill in kinds of actions)
  3. These actions benefit companies by (fill in kinds of benefits in a way that impacts profit)
  4. The above can be summed up by saying, “(fill in summary in ten words or less)”

That summary is the frame.

(We could get very meta and apply design thinking to this problem, which I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader).

  1. I’m tasked with putting together just such a board-friendly argument in the coming weeks. Wish me luck :-)

    (And yeah, I’m stealing part of your outline…)

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