U101 Design thinking and creativity in the 21st century

Before I started my teaching degree I studied and completed a module through the Open University. The title is above if you were wondering which one!!

I really enjoyed studying this module and found the independent nature of studying to be quite freeing. The one thing that I found lacked was the social nature of “going to university”. I’m quite a social person by nature and missed the interaction with other adults. The course content was maybe a little too prescriptive for the level it should be (1st year degree level) but on the whole, moved my thinking from a very self centred view of design to thinking about how design works for others and how we as designers consider the needs of our consumers.

I found one of the assignments I submitted during this module and thought it would be an idea to post it here. mainly because I’m clearing out my Google drive folder, but also to serve as a reminder of how far I have come since then. So here goes!! Enjoy!!

Design Thinking and Creativity in the 21st Century

“Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products,services, processes – and even strategy“ Tim Brown (2008)

Aspects of design thinking

As a way of thinking, design thinking is generally considered to be made of three parts. First of all there is the ability to combine empathy for the context of the problem. Secondly, there is creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and lastly there is the rationality of thinking; to be able to analyze and fit solutions into context. For the purpose of this reflective assignment, I have decided to focus on creativity and empathy. Creative thinking in business begins with having empathy for your customers (whether they’re internal or external), and you can’t get that sitting behind a desk (Kelley & Kelly, 2012). Studying U101 has taught me to look further than my comfort zone for inspiration. Emma Dewberry points out, in the first reading of the U101 module, that design is all around us. We interact with design every day in many different situation and environments. Design comes in many different forms, from the professional manager designing systems of work to the graphic designer creating briefs for clients and empathising with their needs. Not only this, design also comes in the form of a mother designing her day around her children, creating play sessions conducive to learning, and many other ‘quiet design’ situations where ordinary people resolve problems in their daily lives.

In reading 1: Elements of Design thinking, Emma Dewberry quotes Danah Zohar in her definition of three kinds of thinking (Intellect, Heart and Spirit):

With the intellect we define the goals, set tasks, evaluate the evidence, collect facts, search for precedent and search for logic. Then there is the brain’s heart – that form of associative or parallel thinking that finds associations between things, events, people and structures, and that taps experience, learning by trial and error. And, importantly, there is the brain’s spirit – imaginative, intuitive, insightful, creative, unwilling to accept old paradigms as given, inventing new categories of thought, being holistic, finding new ways of making one plus one add up to three, and finding a new path when our rule-bound and habit-bound thinking can’t cope. (Zohar, 1997)

It could be argued that design thinking and creativity as a whole is basically a methodology for practical resolution of problems in which the main aim is an improved future result. Creativity and Empathy in design is fundamental in providing the best solutions for a problem. Society and individuals alike, need creativity and creative techniques in order to arrive at the most appropriate solutions to their design briefs which are born from empathy towards the problem. Empathic design at its core is the ability to identify customer needs in order to create products of services that the customers don’t even know they need or desire yet. In some instances, solutions are provided because customers have difficulty envisioning the solution due to lack of familiarity with the possibilities offered by new technologies or because they are locked in an old mindset (Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathic_design)