Design Thinking Comes of Age

August 31, 2015

This article from Harvard Business Review has so many good quotes that I couldn't resist posting it and commenting on it. The gist of the article is that design thinking is becoming increasingly important to large organizations (I couldn't agree more).  Just a few choice comments:

 

I could list a dozen other types of complexity that businesses grapple with every day. But here’s what they all have in common: People need help making sense of them. Specifically, people need their interactions with technologies and other complex systems to be simple, intuitive, and pleasurable.

 

Again, I coudn't agree more. One thing the article doesn't convey, though, is how EASY it is to make things complicated, and how damn HARD it is to make things simple. Maybe it's just human nature. Maybe it's part of the universe's natural tendency towards entropy. Who knows.  But when you're sitting in a design session arguing about whether or not you should include Feature X, the collective energy in the room always seems to lead towards adding it.  "Just in case."  Regardless of why, one of the biggest things I do day-to-day as a designer is try to get people to take things OUT.

 

In a culture focused on customer experience, financial touch points are designed around users’ needs rather than internal operational efficiencies.

 

Again, exactly right, and so hard to do. I think, and this is my strictly unscientific guess, that this has to do with the human tendency to be "tribal," and to form close ties within our small groups. Our work processes then become part of the culture, "the way we've always done it." And we'll tend to focus on what is best for "our tribe" rather than for the organization as a whole. The way to counteract this is of course to always keep your eyes on the business case for whatever project you're conducting. But again, easier said than done!

 

“There’s no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience,” said Bridget van Kralingen, the senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, in a statement to the press. In November 2013 IBM opened a design studio in Austin, Texas—part of the company’s $100 million investment in building a massive design organization. As Phil Gilbert, the general manager of the effort, explained in a press release, “Quite simply, our goal—on a scale unmatched in the industry—is to modernize enterprise software for today’s user, who demands great design everywhere, at home and at work.” The company intends to hire 1,000 designers.

 

IBM gets that they need great design.  <Jaw drops>  Surely the last trump is nigh.  ;)

 

Seriously, it's an awesome article.  Go read it.

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