Recently, at a conference reception (think wine and cubes of cheese), a well-known and influential member of the academic community said to me: “Design strategy is far too important to be left to designers.” What a pile of crap, I think. I am pissed, but in a moment of cowardice, I sip my wine, chew my pepper jack, and slink off to lighter conversation. If only I were able to channel Clint Eastwood at will.
But since then I’ve been considering this notion of “design thinking” by non-designers and its aura of self-importance. You know, it’s an area where really smart people spend lots of time pondering strategy, process, core principles, world trends, etc. in order to define the next big thing and change the course of human history. Entire schools have sprung up devoted to the idea.
I’ll come right out and admit that I am a right brain, shoot from the hip kinda guy. I believe in an “educated gut” sort of approach. i.e. survey the situation, find inspiration, make it, see what happens, get better at it. True, this approach lacks the patina of “science.” But over the course of more years and projects than I wish to admit, I can honestly say that I have been right about more things than I have been wrong.
What I think is wrong about the idea of “design thinking” is the implicit assumption that thinking is somehow removed from the act of design itself.