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Design meets …

Design is about rethinking what you are doing, but rather than finding answers it asks questions. Questions that bother one so much that an answer has to be created. Designers have the urge of creating the means, prototyping, cutting, gluing, fixing, sewing, observing, understanding, listening, taking significant decisions, and creating changes that would have substantial impact for someone. If you think about it, designer’s mindset is very similar to that of a surgeon, right? But does medical students label themselves as “creative”, not always.

Creativity is a big word, and it is usually associated with design, art, music or dance. We can even say that creativity is almost something “artistic” in our heads. But in the real world a surgeon is as creative as a designer, an accountant is as innovative as an architect, a salesperson is as observer as a painter.

So what if we embrace the idea that we are all creative and start taking actions as design thinkers? The result will create a major impact.

Of course there is a difference between how a designer and a scientist act. The scientists usually investigate today to discover explanations for what already exists, and designers tend to invent tomorrow to create something that is not.

And this is where design meets strategy.

We all care about strategy because we want the future to be different from the present. We usually hate the current, but change seems scary sometimes, more than that taking a step forward for change may seem impossible for some domains.Good news is that our job, as designers, is to create an alternative approach for a problem. We may not be able to re-integrate juvenile delinquents into society by trying to find a job for each and all of them. But if we re-think question differently for a second, and ask, how we might change the perception of the society towards juvenile injustice, we may find a solution and change people’s mindset. And this solution might actually be quicker, more sustainable, and create an impact on not only one person’s life but on many others. But in order to reach to the root problem of why the society has prejudices towards juvenile injustice we have to really understand the very society. That’s where a designer needs a sociologist, and a sociologist needs an anthropologist, and they need an engineer so they can build things, and this developed “things”, let it be a product or service, needs a lawyer to spread the idea around. This is why designers do not work alone, because in order to solve a wicked problem we need to build a shared understanding; collaboration. With collaboration of design and other disciplines we can create meaningful benefits for the society or even for your business. Even though we are sick of hearing the word innovation, this word means something when a root problem is solved in a way that it has never been solved before and the result is so sustainable that we will not face the same problem again.

To create innovative approaches, team collaboration is great, but not every problem allows enough time to build a team, think as a team and act as a team. Another way of creating designed solutions about a problem is to have a designers in your firm, but unfortunately the problem is not solved when you hire the chief designer and let the rest of your firm do what they were doing before. To generate meaningful benefits from design, firms have to change in tremendous ways. They have to embed design –into their employees, not –onto their businesses. Firms have to understand that design is not about how things look, but it’s about how people think.

Businesses that added the word “design” –into their companies’ lexicon has created and transformed their products or services into “things” that not only create demand, but also find the real need of their consumers and transform that need into demand. With this understanding the world will stop creating more and more products, but start creating less products that could solve myriad of problems.

As an example we can talk about “design-inspired enterprises”. As Gabriella Lojacono cites in her article, “Procter & Gamble sought to provide a better way to clean floors, it discovered that its customers did not wish for better mops but to have clean floors without mopping. P&G took the ‘mopless floor’ fantasy seriously and developed the very successful Swiffer line of dry and moist cleaning tools. Or BMW found that drivers of its high-performance care were not stressed by high-speed driving but by parking, so the company integrated proximity sensors and an acoustic signal to assist drivers in parking. Interestingly, BMW realized that a completely automatic system would have been an affront to the pride that its customers have in there driving skills. It correctly determined which emotional connection to make and which not to violate.”

This is how we can turn design thinking into design doing through embracing creativity within all disciplines, using behaviors as design insights, and changing behaviors. A focus on design translates into a focus on customers’ true needs and ultimately creating better informed companies for better-designed future. Perhaps saying design is too important to be left for designers might be correct for the upcoming era.

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Image source: Flickr


Yasemin Uyar

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