Design Thinking

March 12, 2021

What do successful and innovative companies and individuals have in common? Usually, the company or individuals are creative, collaborative, critical in their thinking and communicative. Take Apple as an example, they have outperformed many other S&P 500 companies over the last two decades. What have they got that the other companies do not? I would say above all that they are design focused and particularly understand their customer’s needs. As Simon Sinek would say, they know their ‘why’ and their customers buy into their products at a deeper level than just a brand. It’s a ‘lifestyle!’

Due to the remarkable success of these design-led companies like Apple, design has evolved beyond making just products. Organisations now want to learn how to think like designers and apply design principles to the workplace itself. Design Thinking is at the core of the movement and is changing the way many organisations / institutions are working and operating.

You can design the way you lead, manage, create and innovate. Design Thinking can be applied to systems, procedures, protocols, customer/user experiences and even education. The purpose of design, ultimately, in my view is to improve the quality of life for people and what better way can you make this happen but through the education of our children. What more can we do than teach our children the ‘why’ of their own learning?

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems and find the best solution for a particular person or group of people.  A design mindset is solution focused and action oriented towards creating this preferred future. What more could you want in a student? Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be and to create the desired solution for a particular person or group in mind. Does this not describe individualised learning and the direction we want education to go in the 21st century?

One of the early innovators in Design Thinking was David Kelley, the founder of the design consultancy IDEO. Along with his brother Tom Kelley, he has written a book called “Creative Confidence”, a book I would highly recommend to read if you are interested in this topic.

Design Thinking gained even more impetus with the publication of the book “Change by Design”, written by Tim Brow. He started to explore how Design Thinking can be used by business to create not just products, but services as well and even made the tentative link of using Design Thinking in education. From this I can see how Design Thinking can improve the curriculum, learning spaces, school processes and tools, and even school systems.

“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
– Tim Brown CEO, IDEO

A Framework for Design Thinking

Over the last few years, I have been researching Design Thinking at length and have come across many different frameworks. All of them are structured basically in a cycle which involves observation of the problem, framing potential opportunities, generating creative ideas and then testing and refining a solution. As we know, a cycle is the best possible model in this situation, however it does not work for education, as we have to move on from a particular subject or project due to time and curriculum constraints.

Therefore, I decided upon creating an adapted framework.

The Understand, Create and Deliver (UCD) framework uses language that younger children can understand, while Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype & Test help the teachers and parents understand where the children are in the process of designing.

I believe this as a possible framework for schools can play an important part in education and I would like to see many of our traditional topics taught through this approach. It is something we are seeing through the development of some of the invention created by our students during the 2021 LPSS Science Week.

Leave a reply

Leave Your Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *