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This book leaves me with mixed feelings. The background: recently industry designers have been trying to break out of their confinement which held them captive to the whims of fickle marketeers. They've moved on from styling consumer products to more strategic briefings: designing experiences, services and even business models. The ambitions reach beyond the corporate sphere, leading designers to confront the systemic, "wicked problems" of our age: climate change, rapid urbanisation, obesity ... The basic logic underpinning this strategic upframing is "Design Thinking". According to Thomas Lockwood, President of the Design Management Institute and editor of this volume, this "is essentially a human-centered innovation process that emphasizes observation, collaboration, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid concept prototyping, and concurrent business analysis, which ultimately influences innovation and business strategy." So, design thinking is a new way of thinking that builds on careful mapping of consumer needs, collaborative visualization of alternative solutions and rapid prototyping of emerging concepts, with the ultimate aim to generate more compelling customer experiences and toncontribute to businesses' top line growth. And the approach seems to work even when dealing with the big societal problems, which "don't need necessarily big solutions" (says Lockwood) but just a complete "reframing". Sounds good. However, I feel that this book overstretches in its ambition to sell the concept of design thinking.
First, although it starts with a grandiloquent dedication to the design thinkers of today who contribute to the need for social, economic and environmental improvement "with a spirit of goodness", there is precious little evidence in this volume of designers' ability to tackle the big issues and the associated dilemmas. The book consists of 23 short essays, grouped in four sections. The first section is devoted to more general issues of design culture and design management. Paradoxically, despite the grand ambitions designers have been under increasing pressure to justify the value they bring to the business. Hence the need for creating a culture that is sympathetic to design and to develop tools to manage a design organisation and to visualise its value-added. This is for me the most interesting part of the book, with valuable contributions from key people in the design community (Brigitte Borja de Mozota, Rachel Cooper and Heather Fraser). The latter part of the book focuses on "Building Brands", "Service Design" and "Customer Experiences" respectively. Most of the stuff discussed here by design and brand consultants squarely belongs to the remit of traditional, commercially-driven design. For those wanting a compendium of contemporary design practices in these realms, the book may offer a few interesting nuggets. But in my opinion reading about how the re-introduction of the colour yellow in Coke's visual identity re-energised the brand is a disappointing contrast with the lofty ambition to reframe some of the big issues of our time.
Furthermore, I am not convinced that design thinking by definition translates in the ability to fundamentally reframe strategic challenges. The toolbox is rich in observational and visualisation tools but rather light on the more conceptual side of the practice. Designers are only just coming to grips with sophisticated instruments such as future scenarios and systems analysis. These are tools that talented strategists have been using for decades (for example, Richard Normann's "Reframing Business" and Ramirez and Normann's "Designing Interactive Strategy" ought to be part of each design thinker's curriculum). If design wants to steer away from the anecdotal and really wants to come to grips with the systemic, it will have to build on systems thinking and strategy development as rich and venerable disciplines in their own right.
Finally, it seems to me the scope of design thinking ought to be fundamentally critical. When design simply parrots the brainless hyperbole that is so distinctive of much of the management literature it becomes bland and superfluous. When it succumbs to capitalist orthodoxy it becomes just another clever way of social engineering. The stakes introduced by design thinking are of an altogether different order. In Bruce Mau's seminal "Life Style", Sanford Kwinter argued that design's mission was "to free life of routine, to place it into syncopation so that it can find new, entirely unexpected patterns of unfolding." Hence, "what is most beautiful about it, in fact, might well be its potential to magnify risk". This is as antithetical to controlling, risk-averse corporate logic as you can get. For me, design thinking is an ethos rather than "a process". It is basically about adopting a voluntaristic, pragmatically utopian stance. Design thinking is the desire to flee fatalism, "analysis by paralysis", the straightjacket of the bottom-line and "death by committee" by taking on an almost Nietzschean, heroically-affirmative position. To authentically defend that position from within a discipline that is to a large extent legitimised by the corporate world and provides global capitalism with its "lingua franca" (products, images) comes with interesting paradoxes and dilemmas. Bruce Mau, in his "Life Style", wrestled openly with those issues. However, Lockwood's "Design Thinking" does not, which is why ultimately the argument is much less compelling than it could have been. 3 stars.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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In recent years, there have been several outstanding books published on the general subject of business design and this is one of the best, worthy of inclusion with Tim Brown's Change by Design, Hartmut Esslinger's A Fine Line, Jay Greene's Design Is How It Works, Thomas Kelley's The Art of Innovation and then The Ten Faces of Innovation, Roger Martin's The Design of Business, Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, and by Roberto Verganti's Design Driven Innovation. All of them offer a wealth of insights but from different perspectives to serve different purposes. I highly recommend each.
In this volume, we have an anthology of essays by 31 contributors, including Thomas Lockwood who also served as editor. Although there is commendable variety and diversity among the essays, Lockwood suggests that there are "several key tenets of design thinking that seem to be common. The first is to develop a deep understanding of the consumer based on fieldwork research...Having the users involved early on also makes it possible to get user evaluations of a concept. Therefore, a second important aspect of design thinking is collaboration, both with the users and through forming multidisciplinary teams...The third part is to accelerate learning through visualization, hands-on experimentation, and creating quick prototypes, which are made as simple3 as possible in order to get usable feedback...The fifth and last aspect, which may not be on everyone's list but which I endorse, is the importance of the concurrent business analysis integrated during the process rather than added on later or used to limit creative ideations. This can be a tricky balance, but the key is to enable integrative thinking by combining the creative ideas with more traditional strategic aspects in order to learn from a more complete and diverse point of view."
In one of his books, The Opposable Mind, Roger Marin explains integrative thinking as being "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in one's head and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other," be able to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea." For example, those involved in a major project that requires highly innovative thinking would introduce "multiple working hypotheses" when required to make especially complicated decisions. Those who have mastered integrative thinking would not merely tolerate contradictory points of view, they would encourage them. Only in this way could they and their associates "face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension [whatever its causes may be] in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each."
Lockwood duly acknowledges that, like many other design disciplines, "design thinking in services involves multidisciplinary teamwork, prototyping as a means of dialogue, open design architectures, and integration between functional and emotional connections. Yet designing for services does require a somewhat different mindset than for a more static product design. In essence, although people are at the center of each, product design is generally about the object whereas service design is about the journey...The innovation imperative celebrates nonlinear behavior and presents many challenges - not just for the product and services development, but also to inspire ideas for new initiatives."
In Design Is How It Works, Jay Greene suggests, "Let's demystify design. First, it's important to understand that design, at least the way I'm using the term, isn't merely about style and form. Those are important. But design is really about the way products and services come to life. The companies that build the most enduring relationships with customers often do so by creating an environment where design flourishes. They have leadership that embraces design, executives who trust their gut and their employees as much as they trust all the data they receive abut their business. To really grasp design is to intuit what customers want, often before customers even know what they want it. That's not something you can learn in a focus group or an online survey."
One way or another, the 31 contributors to this volume have (together) achieved two immensely important objectives: they have helped to demystify traditional perspectives on design, and, they have helped to increase our understanding and appreciation of what design thinking can accomplish. More specifically, Tim brown asserts, it is a discipline "that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a variable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity."