Norman – Rethinking Design Thinking (again)

I like his catholic priest vibe.

In 2010 Don “Design of Everyday Things” Norman posted “Design Thinking – A useful myth” on Core77. Now he is rethinking design thinking. Apparently the process of revisiting his book and writing new chapters, bringing more examples and making stronger links to the business side of design made him reconsider the whole argument.

Bruce Nussbaum, a the big responsible for the presence of term design thinking (and by consequence design) in the business agenda in the last couple of years also wrote about design thinking been a failed experiment in 2011.

I think both have a huge point. “Design thinking” have reached such level as a buzzword that it kind of get us tired of it. As I have said other times when I got involved in arguments about design thinking been something new or not, if it is valid or not, bla bla bla. For me it was always about finding people who were doing a better design, more empathetic and human centered than the use of the term “design” (an expression even more misused than “design thinking”).

A more efficient keyword / #hashtag. Just it.

Don Norman talks about “the power of the stupid question” as the main asset designers have as outsiders who can challenge the status quo. In this sense I am really happy to be studying in a place where we call ourselves professional idiots – exactly because we learn to ask stupid questions for a living.

Practical Ethnography

Sam Ladner is writing a book to connect business people and social science professionals so they both can have a better perspective on ethnography applied in the private sector.

I just read her free sample and it looks pretty good. Well, actually it still a draft do it doesn’t really LOOK good in the design meaning of the word, but the content is pretty good.

Firstly I think the market urges for a material like this, at least in Brazil we have a lot of professionals from the business world looking for some consistent sources on how to apply “this ethnography thing” in their business. I know, we have a lot of articles from companies like Intel and Microsoft talking about it, but one never knows how much of it is true and how much was modified to look good in the eyes of the media. I also think it can be really useful for people coming from social sciences background to the corporate world.

I am maybe generalizing to much, but social sciences guys are usually left wing while business administration guys are as far as one can get on the right wing, right? At least this is how I feel about it. So in the end there is this very different cultural / world view background in both fields. For me it kind of holds them back from really join forces and produce together (you know… business men think these anthro-people are a bunch of commies and social scientists think that business guys are soulless people with $ $ marks in their eyes all the time). So we really need someone who speaks both languages to get them together.

Back to the book.

It is interesting how she talks about giving “colors” to the text with details and how she manages to do it pretty well with examples from projects. I think that in the final version she could use some design references Harvard Business Review articles. A good executive summary in the beginning of each chapter and a wrap up in the end of it as well. I also like the way HBR keep practical examples in boxes helping you to focus your attention.

I am really looking for this book!