Features of Design Thinking: A map of the territory version one

This is very much a first version – in other words it is not intended to be complete, I don’t intend it to be complete. I expect to keep having discussions with people for a long time to come about what distinguishes Design Thinking, if such a distinction is legitimate at all, and so on.

But because I am a design thinker, I agree with another greater thinker who said: “Truth proceeds more readily from error than from confusion.”

And I like drawing pictures and letting them talk back to me.

So taking our mape of the generative thinking territory from the previous post, here it is with some of the features of design thinking that I have been reflecting on. For convenience in viewing, I’ve broken the map into its 3 main chunks. And you will notice that some key features of thinking that we value recur. The “rules” for whether something shows are more than once are if it belongs to more than one category. For example, systems thinking

a) Is native to our personal knowledge – it may not be scaled well, but it is basic to our generative epistemic act to see wholes and trace and interpret connections

b) Is basic to design thinking – we have to be self-consciously competent about characterising connections – for example I would argue that the generation of personas is a system thinking tool for handling complex informations spaces about population segments

c) Has been relegated to design thinking – scientists have come late and slow to this capability. It has been ecologists and family therapists who have had to till the soil…

So, first of all at the level of the whole generative epistemic act:

Then with scientific method as the generative context

Notice that certainty becomes a key issue, and this contrasts with the different epistemic claim of Design Thinking, which is not for certainty but for confidence.

If, by the way, you think I am being unfair (not that you differ from my position, but that you think I have done justice to the palyers), please let me know. It is my intent to be even handed – I have been oth a professional scientist and a deisigner, but ones passions do tend to colour the debate.


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