It’s about 9pm on a Tuesday and I just spent the last 24 hours cramming through Change By Design by Tim Brown at IDEO. The subject of Design Thinking is not a new topic for me but instead a discipline I have been cultivating over the past 6 or 7 years. Yet this book is hitting me in a fresh way. I’m finding myself delighted by all the connections, frameworks and ideas that are synonymous to my own understanding. I feel validated in that sense. However I’m simultaneously deeply troubled and challenged.
For the past 8 years my focus has been to use Design as a means to tackle wicked problems. Pornography use and racial injustice, and child poverty have each held my attention to varying degrees. I often find myself in the abstract, strategic spaces of Design. Design has the potential to impact the world for good and completely transform lives. I truly believe that. But it requires people willing to move together, united in a common goal. It requires at least compassionate Capitalism but may be better led by people not interested in profits but rather the success and goodness of their community or others around the world. It is worthwhile work and it is hard work. But this book describes teams, organizations and communities in sync to solve something together. Design Thinking means design exists outside of a design department and is owned by all as a means for change. Yet so many organizations employ “UX” designers with such tight constraints that they aren’t permitted to innovate. They are regulated to pushing pixels and implement someone else’s solution. That’s not Design. That’s not UX. It’s soul-crushing for a Designer put in that position and wastes the talents and value that a Designer brings to an organization. Those Designers should be leading and facilitating Design Thinking across an organization and rallying folks around a common goal. How do you convince people to adopt Design as described in this book? How do you get organizations to practice and value Design Thinking?
I’ll be stewing on these thoughts over the next couple days for sure.