Design Thinking and Design Orientation
Whether it's Design Thinking, Design Orientation or any other similar set of notions led by a single phrase, when pursued they all fail. No proposition is safe from failure, no matter how conducive or sympathetic the context.
These memes indicate the prevailing opinions and agendas of particular people within their spheres of influence. These memes demonstrate the limitations of a singular approach and shine a spotlight on the political and business agendas of those who promote them. The same problem is not only found in business and in this instance relative to the role of design in business but in art, science, religion and philosophy.
No single notion can withstand the pressures of context. They are formal abstract notions with tenuous links to practical reality. They are enticing sprinkles of stardust borne by thought-leaders and doomed to represent the failure of the overall approach.
It is not difficult to reduce the value of design, or even the value of thinking. Design Thinking is a clever brandline for a distinct agenda. I can see the attraction but it falls victim to my central criticism...
All things (notions/ideas/your definition for any all encompassing term/memes) if pursued fail.
'If' is a key word in the sentence above, easily overlooked and profoundly important. In the context of a robust critical thinking environment within which memes such as Design Thinking and Design Orientation are being interrogated it's more a case of how and when they are pursued. And then it's a case of how best to make them fail relative to the interests of those promoting them.
There is an alternative approach...
Consistent with my opinion on opinions my comment is driven by my agenda. This is the thrust of my response to your post.
The only laughter I can imagine coming from you in response to my comment is mockery. Perhaps you have not taken the time to consider the depth and care with which I have chosen my words.
Because things fail in the limit does not mean we shouldn't engage them. We hold opinions which enable particular interventions. Design enables particular interventions. Design is not and will never be an ultimate destination. It is too easy to make fail. There are more robust ideas such as creativity and inspiration to which design is quite obviously subject.
The elevation of design as a primary activity is unlikely to yield what the presentation of Design Thinking or Design Orientation suggests. The failure of Design Thinking is now evident. Design Orientation is perhaps more appropriate but I think it won't be long before it spins out entirely.
My main point is that Design Thinking has been made to fail in the prevailing business climate by the opinion-makers of the day. This is perhaps becuase their business agendas have run their course, been found wanting or genuinely evolved.
It is not possible to express a radically different approach in a reply to a post on a blog. I hoped to pique a curiosity that would be rewarded in further research. Instead, mentioning that there is an alternative approach has been met with contempt, mockery and sarcasm.
As soon as you introduce a likely criticism you partially validate the criticism and your task becomes that much more difficult.
You have taken an attack defense position and this communicates volumes about the amount of work involved to overcome the limitations of your approach.
I would't ever stoop to calling Design Orientation a buzz-phrase but I can see how readily others would adopt it to avoid engaging your arguments.
As per my previous posts your approach has the seeds of it's own destruction built in. There is no one notion that will enable the interventions you quite clearly believe in. You might get lucky to convince influential people if, in the right places, you shout long and hard enough.
Each of the cases you present here as successes will also, if pursued fail. People who have closer relationships with these apparent successes will most likely be able to point out how they were also disasters.
If a bottom line result is offered as proof of success then my point will have been missed. As I've written above, no one notion can be attributed with success in the manner that is being suggested on this blog.
A singular approach cannot hope to withstand the pressures of context to which it is, without exception, subject. Nested sets of ideas have a better chance but only if the context supports what cannot be consciously or formally directed.
The merits of personal failure is not my point. My post demonstrates an overall approach.
You do not fail if you pursue something, the subject in question fails. Big difference. Design Thinking, Design Orientation, 'Design is Fundamental' or any other notion can never be made safe from failure. They all fail when pursued and this occurs without exception.
Failure does indicate 'the end of the world' because the world appears to be made up of things that, when pursued, fail. It may be more useful to think of this as an approach which takes you to the edge of the world. The edge of the world is where creativity and innovation flourish because there every perception, every thing and every opinion is challenged.
You may present notions in ways difficult to make fail. And to the points of my initial response this is quite often for reasons of personal credibility and influence. For example, people may have the freedom to express their opinions but it may not be in their best interests to do so. They may not be able to afford the consequences.
I do appreciate design in the broadest sense possible. It may be prudent to remember the origin of the word to mark out the limitations of the use of the word. In the world of literal design it is used to mean form-giving as well as the original meaning 'to draw'. It is not difficult to grasp how other non-physical 'things' might be 'designed'.
Design may become an overall approach but I think it will be difficult to move it significantly away from literal drawing and form-giving. These associations will always ground the word no matter how you present it.
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