Curated Resource ( ? )

Design thinking was supposed to fix the world. Where did it go wrong? | MIT Technology Review

Design thinking was supposed to fix the world. Where did it go wrong? | MIT Technology Review

my notes ( ? )

Good history of design thinking.

"IDEO’s way of working: a six-step methodology for innovation called design thinking... Key ... was its replicable aesthetic, represented by the Post-it note:... Not too precious, not too permanent... promises a fast-moving, cooperative, egalitarian process", but is also "disruptive, startup-flavored creativity" which can feel "out of touch with reality... [By] elevating the designer to a kind of spiritual medium who didn’t just construct ... on screen but was uniquely able to reinvent systems ... We are all creatives, design thinking promised, and we can solve any problem if we empathize hard enough."

Step 1: "applying their own empathy to users’ pain points", followed by "reframe the problem (“How might we …?”), brainstorm potential solutions, prototype options, test those options with end users, and—finally—implement" - of course the design agencies don't do the last one, delivering instead recommendations. Part of the sell: "companies could bring on an agency temporarily to learn the methodology themselves... [which] felt empowering."

But the shine is wearing thin: "short-term focus on novel and naive ideas -> unrealistic and ungrounded recommendations ... centering designers ->reinforced existing inequities rather than challenging them. ... “innovation theater”— checking a series of boxes without implementing meaningful shifts—had become endemic in corporate settings. ... many big problems are ... too deeply entrenched to be obliterated with a touch of design thinking’s magic wand."

One of the reasons it took off was the optimism it generates among people - particularly in the public sector - that change is possible. But "roots in the agency world... -> design thinking aimed at the start of the product development process... brainstorming sessions didn’t usually lead to built products or... solutions... we’re going to fumble our way through and by the time we’re done, we’re on to the next project."

Design thinking is evolving. Shifting from empathy to "care demands a shift in who is centered in these processes ... [asks] What are all the intended and unintended consequences?", how to "change things without screwing everything else up?" It also means "recognizing the expertise ... of the user [more]... than the designer ... And being a little bit less arrogant" and getting better at telling stories for clients: "spreading the word about the value of collaboration in business, elevating the public profile of design ... coaxing funding ... for expensive long-term projects... [with] a justice lens can help foster collaboration and creativity in a much broader way that goes beyond our current power structures."

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