Bruce Nussbaum: “Design Vs. Design Thinking.”

We’re having an excellent conversation about design and design thinking and I’d really like it to continue. If you missed Christopher Fahey’s recent comment, please read it here. It’s an important contribution to the discussion.

“Here’s an idea: A young person goes to an art school or a design school to learn design hands-on among designer peers, then they get a job in the real world to learn about business, then if they work hard and pay attention in a few years they flower into what you call a “design thinker”.

Or they go to a business school and then start messing around with Photoshop, HTML and CSS, Visio or CAD, pencil and paper, or whatever design tools they can. They get a job in the real world working closely with designers. They actually practice design more and more — they “pay their dues”. And then, again, after a few years of work and dedication they also blossom into a “design thinker”. (…)

But, as the list of 60 schools and programs shows, there are many more institutions in Europe and Asia working in the fields and many, many partnerships across the boundaries of design, engineering and business. No one really know how or where design thinking will take shape—only that it is.

Nick Leon director of Design London, the new program that links the Royal College of Art, the Tanaka Business School and Imperial College of London, thinks the term “design thinking” is ridiculous. Business people roll their eyes at “thinking.” He wants more rigor and prefers the term “design method.” OK by me.

I don’t think design thinking is a subtext of management science or the traditional stuff they teach in B-Schools. But many business schools are moving to integrate design and innovation into their curricula and teaching. Where the best research on all this develops, I don’t know. Right now I read the great stuff from the Design Management Institute, Rotman Magazine, the Harvard Business Review and the Innovation & Design channel—and a growing number of well-informed blogs. Here are just a handful. Experientia. Metacool. Logic + Emotion.

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