Happy Friday. Click This. Design and Design Thinking.

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Can your business benefit from design thinking? How many “wicked” problems are you facing? Thinking of yourself as a designer may be the first step forward.

Most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves designers, and yet every day we have opportunities to design. We draft emails, make dinner reservations, arrange our weekly schedules, dream about our next vacation itinerary, and rearrange the pantry as we put away our groceries.  All of these things are opportunities to exercise creativity and to innovate. To design is to plan, to create, to iterate, to execute, to make mistakes, and to iterate maybe a few (or many) more times.

Embracing the process of creativity and “thinking like a designer” could help you and your organization tackle everyday problems in a new way – to get inventive results.

Tom Wujec’s TED talk about how asking people to explain how they make toast can help them solve complex problems at work.

Design thinking is a way of approaching a challenge or puzzle. It’s a process intended to investigate and untangle problems that are especially difficult, or as Rittel and Webber wrote in 1973: “wicked.” Social issues such as education, poverty, and healthcare have so many moving parts and such porous boundaries that they may never be “solved,” but design thinking enables policy makers to approach these questions differently than they might “tame” (e.g., soluble) problems.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

  • In “How to Practice Good Design” Mammoth co-founder and designer Ashish Krishna shares his elegant yet simple approach to design via TechCrunch. His suggestions include designing with narratives rather than screens in mind and starting with the most cost-effective and rapid iteration tool of all: a pencil.

  • Speaking of books about design, have you read The Design of Everyday Things? In it Don Norman, a cognitive scientist, emphasizes user or human-centered design. Though he writes primarily about physical objects such as faucets, doors, and coffee pots, his exhortations to avoid “creeping featurism” and unnecessary complexity extend to software products and business processes. This is the book you never knew you needed to read…until now.

  • Too busy to read the book? Udacity offers a free course covering the first two chapters of Norman’s classic work, and Stanford’s Institute of Design (d.school) offers a free, virtual crash course in design thinking. It may be summer, but school’s in!

  • Researchers at the University of Washington have created Envisioning Cards to help designers—of all kinds—employ Value Sensitive Design (VSD) and consider how the development of new technologies may impact stakeholders, even those who are often invisible.

Finally, if someone at work is stealing your lunch, check out this brilliant design solution, which changes the thief’s intent before the theft happens: Anti-theft lunch bags. How the problem is framed makes all the difference. (via Design Milk)

P.S. If you ever find yourself asking, “What is code?” then it’s time to check out Paul Ford’s most recent article. It’s a long read, but it’s well worth the time. Besides, it will know if you scroll too quickly or skim, which is an interesting twist on user-centered design.

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About the Author

Amanda Menking
Amanda Menking is a PhD student at the University of Washington's Information School. She's currently exploring gender dynamics and gender-based hostility in online communities. Amanda is a collaborator with the ... Read More 

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