Does Design Thinking work? Or does it oversimplify design, misrepresent it to the business world, and try to place designers? Steve Nedvidek joins Devin on the podcast in this episode to discuss it all.
Steve teaches design thinking at Wake Forest University, is responsible for introducing design thinking to Chick-fil-A, and is himself a designer. He is the perfect person to address recent critique of design thinking, in which a well-known designer claims that design thinking oversimplifies what design is, misrepresenting it to the business world, and ultimately tries to replace design itself. Devin’s own experience with design thinking has been far more positive than this critique suggests, and Steve agrees that there is more to the story than what this critic asserts.
Steve can understand the critic’s perspective when design thinking is thought of in one particular way, but Steve conceives of it much differently. Coming from the angle of his own background as an artsy kid having to try to explain to people what he did, Steve explains how design thinking was the language he needed to communicate what he was doing to people who did not know how he did what he did. In his experience, design thinking most certainly works, and helps facilitate connections between designers and non-designers. It is a discipline, mindset, and process that both enables understanding between people and helps non-designers to employ design concepts to solve problems - all without making the designer superfluous.
Design thinking, Steve says, calls us to think more deeply about the order of things. It adjusts the brain to the discipline of knowing what comes next, helps keep teams grounded in the central problem they’re working to solve, and promotes customer-centricity by demanding a team start with the customer rather than the product. Not only does design thinking foster empathy, but it is a living structure (rather than an equation or rigid set of rules) that also helps businesses to function effectively. It provides the structure for a business to play the long game, focusing on good solutions and stakeholder value rather than speed and immediate results, and following a methodology that takes one step at a time.
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