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Design Thinking and its Significance to Current Times

There is so much misinformation and divisive noise about the topic of Design Thinking that it becomes necessary to introduce this article with what it is not before delving into what it is. Please check the following illustration 1 that brings five arguments that defy the definition and narrative of Design Thinking on the internet.

Fig 1: Destroying the narrative built up to establish the right understanding of Design Thinking

How can a Customer / Consumer Aspire about something they have the least idea about? Isn’t it the role of a design thinker to take them immersively on a journey; from Innocence to Excellence for a given Context or Subject?

Design Thinking & Artificial Intelligence

Technology provides us with this wonderful opportunity to understand the realms beyond the established patterns of reality. This is possible when Cognitive Computing is meshed into the transactional systems building upon Machine and Deep Learning that detect as well as record Trends. Design Thinking is a tool that has a similar process to the enablement of Artificial Intelligence; where the intent and purport of both is to free the customer/consumer engagement and experience to an aspirational outcome; thereby improving the quality of life. Please check out the process of Design Thinking in the following Illustration (Fig 2).

Fig 2: The Process of Design Thinking with clear outcomes illustrated along the process as a continuum

A Journey in Continuum — From Aspiring to Realization

Design Thinking is not a discrete event as most of the proponents seem to project. It is a lifetime process in Continuum and its point of inflection is the intersection of the lifecycle of Customer / Consumer with the lifecycle of Platform, Product, Process and/or Projects (Services). As the above process illustration indicates, there are three stages of Visualization and three stages of Operationalization. And they happen as life happens; be it in an enterprise or society. Essentially the outcome must be transformation and disruptive growth that takes individuals and societies to a higher threshold of Capability and Quality of Life.

Fig 3: The Scope of Design Thinking

The Scope of Design Thinking

As the Illustration (Fig 3) above indicates, the interplay of data across the seven stations of life is the scope of design thinking. Because these are all interconnected to the life on this planet. One must be able to see the connection and then connect the dots accordingly. This cannot be taught in a classroom nor is it a workshop where one can use post its to create the future. Because we now have the technological capability support that is backed by such wonderful progressions such as Pervasive / Quantum Computing, NanoTech, 3D / 4D Printing, Biotech, Robotics, Machine & Neural Learning supported by enmeshed global networks, we can Visualize a very different and liberated planet that democratizes the Internet Of Everything (IOE) and delivers Realization through Institutionalization of Concepts, Culture, Capabilities and Configuration; delivering not just Products and Process but also the Distribution & Reach delivering to the promise of Human Capital.

It would be a terrible waste of effort and resources given the enablers, to use a powerful tool such as Design Thinking for the conventional ways in which Product and Services have been developed and deployed.

How we could see the Covid — 19 Pandemic differently

Isn’t it tragic that we still don’t see the Covid — 19 Pandemic as a life tragedy with very little or nothing done to prevent the next one? The Principle Points of Failure that has crippled life on our planet are:

  1. The disconnection between Public & Private Health did not allow accurate information to be disseminated to the target audience at the right time.

  2. The inability to forecast an economic model that could work and not bring productivity to a standstill despite all kinds of econometric and predictive models floating around the globe.

  3. The inability to universally adopt the process of Track, Trace, Test and Treat the Viral in a timely manner.

  4. The inability to educate and facilitate ownership and Institutionalization of the narrative to deal with the pandemic globally. We still have governments and institutions floundering to cope with the misinformation and mischief.

  5. Continuing to look at Vaccine as the Solution to Viral Infections since its first discovery in 1796. Isn’t it ridiculous to talk about Vaccines and Precision Medicine in the same breath?

  6. The failure of technology to not intelligently facilitate Patients, the medical community, the frontline workers, hospitals and others to operate in unison despite all the Retailization of Systems and the claims of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence around us globally?

  7. The ineffective methods of governments bailing citizens out and thereby causing huge national and international debts that are bound to contribute to an economic slowdown and inflation due to future funds inadequacy.

Does one need more proof than the handling of the Covid Pandemic to understand that Design Thinking could have helped not only save lives but also brought in a better way of handling such pandemics in the future with more effective solutions in the present? Can you see the connection of each of the seven-station of life in the above seven questions?

Fig 4: The Sliding Scale for Mediocrity or Excellence

We need more Design Thinkers

The above Illustration (Fig 4) demonstrates Innovation as the right sliding scale; which is really a journey from Innocence to Excellence in a Continuum. On the other hand, the left sliding scale indicates Extinction as a journey from Ignorance to Mediocrity in a Continuum. In this day and age, each of the seven stations of life as illustrated in Fig 3 face deep issues disconnected from one another. It is because most of the globe has fallen into the left sliding scale rather than the right sliding scale. We need more distinctive thinkers like

  1. Isaac Newton whose laws of gravitation are being used in the launch of space vehicles or

  2. Einstein whose theory of relativity is helping our current geospatial applications or

  3. Srinivasa Ramanujan whose mathematical conjectures are currently unravelling Artificial Intelligence constructs in the modern world

Design Thinking is a discipline and not a skill. It is the power of visualization that each one of us is born with naturally. We have unfortunately created Structures, Synergies and Systems in our Societies that have dimmed this ability. Like the chicken and the egg situation, we have to approach this subject with a desire to transform the way we imagine our life on this planet. The disinformation on this subject must stop. The cashing from this “Mystical Subject” must give way to a more infused method of developing Design Thinkers in our societies. It must become a part of the pedagogy of the K-12 education.

First Principles

The end game of Design Thinking must be about creating a more joyous life. Moving away from the premise of making people consume what they don’t need, we must find a way for making coinages like “Circular Economy” come to life. Before we can have a majority of design thinkers, we should find a way for the practitioners in societies and institutions to do the right thing inculcating the discipline of Excellence measurably. From crawling and walking as toddlers, we all have the potential to become the fastest athlete on the planet. Yet there is one Usain Bolt from millions and millions of people. We learnt to enjoy the rush of the wind against our little faces as we adjusted our tiny butts on a swing and learnt to accelerate without learning Newton’s Laws. This craft of Visualized Thinking will come as naturally to us if we stopped pretending all around.

We must start in earnest to democratizing systems and the way that will happen is when people anywhere in the world own their data and decide who they want to share and collaborate with. Those who take the lead in this direction will win the trust which will be the oil that lubricates the wheels of the digital economy.

Giggr - The Future of World employs Design Thinking in its Business Model Construct envisaging the confluence of Life Ecosystems as it evolves as a Key Societal Innovation Disruptor leading to Social Justice, Increased Rate of innovation and Sustainability.
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