Friday, 30 May 2008

Design Thinking: New Challenges for Designers, Managers and Organisations

The academic Design Management Institute (DMI) Conference was held 3-4 April, 2008 in Cergy France, a quiet university town 1 hour outside of Paris at ESSEC Business School.

For an academic conference, the delegate list was a nice mix inclusive of many practitioners. But they could have quite possibly been there as Design and the Linking Force, the bigger DMI conference for industry, was to happen the following 3 days in the centre of Paris.

The scope of papers, related to Design Thinking, was far and wide. Some of the more interesting themes I noted were:

- The employee experience and how design could contribution to the organisational experience;

- Design Thinking as knowledge work;

- Design methods engage the wider audience of non-designers such as children;

- Opportunities for design in the developing world.

I found all presentation topics interesting, but the above ones in particular because these issues and topics I have previously thought about.

My big take-away from the conference, was from the second day's discussion forum. We discussed what we thought Design Thinking was and my synthesis from the session was that Design Thinking is both attitude as well as an activity.

This has really helped validate my own research. The initial remit of my PhD was to look at the design methodologies utilised in the Dott 07 public commissions projects. As time has passed, I have begun to broaden this remit because there is so much more than just methods and a process that a designer brings to design projects. There are many other aspect to consider when involved in design projects, such as client interactions, inspiration etc. The Managing As Designing phrase ‘design attitude’ encapsulates a lot of what designers bring to projects, beyond the methods and the process.