Louise Downe

Smoke, mirrors and Design Thinking™


It’s not that I disagree with “Design Thinking”.

I like thinking.

It’s just that I don’t think design has a monopoly on it.

You’d be hard pushed to find a person who doesn’t use ‘thinking’ to solve a problem. The trouble with thinking though, is that it’s got a bad rep. It’s something we do when we’re stuck, bored or worried.

In business we prefer words like ‘insight’, ‘learning’ and ‘KPI’ that imply we know how to solve a problem before we start. This is rarely the case, so we’ve given thinking a new name to help us legitimize this period of uncertainly as part of a process - Design Thinking.

The problem is that this process comes with a caveat - you have to be a ‘Designer’ to use it.

Like any industry, design doesn’t just want to change the world – it wants to get there before anyone else. In order to do this it has needed to differentiate the kind of thinking a designer can do from the kind of thinking an economist, annalist or a CEO might do.

Thankfully though, ideas rarely respect the boundaries we give them, and design thinking is reaching a level of popularity where elements of this ‘approved uncertainly’ are being incorporated elsewhere. And not a moment too soon.

If we want to change the world, we all need to take part.