Web Directions South 2010 Design Thinking & Doing

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A talk by David Gravina, Digital Eskimo's Creative Director and founder on using Design Thinking to expand the digital designers problem domain.

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  • Hi!
  • Thanks craig - awesome talk.

    couldnt agree more with your passion for japanese books and design

    Kenya Hara - Designing Design
  • Its a bit of a buzz word right now isnt it.

    IDEO have written books about it,

    Fast Company is in a lather about it,

    MBAs are doing it,

    Management consultancies are charging a fortune for it

    its been around as an idea for a while now

    - and despite Don Norman’s protestations .. it IS the hot new thing.

    explore why its an important idea for people working in the digital design space

    and why for us its as much about the doing as the thinking.

    follow a design approach here and break our big problem up into smaller pieces.

  • So what is Design?

    Defining design is one of those things designers try to do from time to time - with really no definitive outcome.

    The bottom line is it means many things to many people - Wikipedia states confidently that no generally-accepted definition of “design” exists

    We could have a whole conference on it.

    Some see it as what designers do, or the artefacts of this - the things they design,

    or just the surface or the look and feel of something.

    All of us in this room know of course its much more than these things ...

  • A good definition by Dr Charles Burnette i like states that Design is:

    “… a process of creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized,

    decisions to be made,

    situations to be improved,

    and knowledge to be gained.”



  • Another i found years ago but not sure who said it ..





  • or put simply ..

    .. A creative way of solving problems.






  • ok so that’ll do for design .. so what is thinking? (long pause)

    its interesting to think about thinking isnt it. (pause!)

    Dont worry im not going to get all edward de bono on  you!

    I’ll keep it simple ... thinking in this context is the thing we do to create the why - and to a large extent - the what part of a project - otherwise known as the strategy.

    SO thinking creates strategy - its strategizing.







  • So one way to define Design Thinking is to say it is the Design of Strategy

    or ... Strategic Design



  • So one way to define Design Thinking is to say it is the Design of Strategy

    or ... Strategic Design



  • So one way to define Design Thinking is to say it is the Design of Strategy

    or ... Strategic Design



  • So one way to define Design Thinking is to say it is the Design of Strategy

    or ... Strategic Design



  • When you put the two together its a bit like the wonder twins and their rings - shazamm!

    You get Kick ass super powers.





  • Designers traditionally sit at the end of a process.

    The Mgt/Business/Strategy people do the thinking





  • and provide a brief  to the designer.  

    The Designer then uses design process (with some thinking of course)to create a solution to what is already defined. Dont get me wrong ... Briefs are a useful communication tool ...

    but in this model of design the overall direction in which the project is going - the strategy - is more or less locked in.





  • The designer can sometimes influence back up the chain and make significant changes

    - rebriefing or even encouraging total directional changes

    but more often than not the reality sits somewhere between slapping the proverbial lipstick on the pig to .....

    at best .... executing someone else’s idea - making it better sure -

    but in the end really only working within the predefined vision already conceived for the project.


  • To get the shazaam going designers need to step up to the strategy table

    (with their butchers paper and post it notes of course!) and help to DESIGN the STRATEGY.

    (WITH the other stakeholders that are already there btw - a key tenant of Design is after all collaboration - and great design relies on multi-disciplinary teams)






  • We're not replacing the business analysts, the strategists at all

    - we're augmenting their skills

    -and providing the design process and some guiding principles to follow.

    What this means is that Designers - who were once only the Doers

    - are now also able to be the Thinkers and can begin to influence the way in which strategy is created.



  • One good example of why this changes things ...

    Because designers are doers

    - we use our hands to think

    - prototypes allow us to evolve our ideas well before they are finalised (in fact they are never finalised!)

    A Design led strategy values experimentation and iteration

    over fixed plans and major investment in unproven ideas. 






  • This is just one of the fundamental ways that Design Thinkers alter the creation of strategy.

    there are many more

    And the Business community is taking note.




  • So what does this mean for us as designers?

    Why should this interest you.

    Well one reason is this graph

    This is my highly unscientific approximation of all the problems of the world.

    The white wedge is my guesstimate of how many of those are being responded too with any form of actual Design.

    Not Design Thinking mind you - JUST Design.




  • This is likely the Design Thinking slice.

    On one level its about the enormous opportunities to grow your business (if you own one)

    or getting involved in challenging projects at someone elses company if you don’t

    or maybe its about working on stuff you believe in.

    There's a world of challenging problems that designers simply arent getting involved in.

    It's such a HUGE opportunity for us all its hard to overstate it.


  • Yes its an opportunity to pull in some serious cash, but also to make a difference in the world - to make the world a better place - however you define that personally.

    For me the extremely exciting projects in that rather large pie up on the screen includes:

    - mixed mobility public transport systems
    - healthy food systems
    - working on water and other resource scarcity issues
    - and of course the mother of all problems

    - climate change.







  • QUICK FACT:
    A good Design Process can be applied to almost any problem.

    There are domain specific techniques and approaches

    that make certain designers more suitable to particular problems

    but we all share a similar top level process - or atleast all good designers do. 




  • OK enough theory!

    I'd like to share an example we've been working on at Digital Eskimo - designing our own Strategy.

    Our industry isn't renowned for strategically planning our own businesses.

    we work off instinct and respond to the market demands

    often designers aren't particularly business savvy & we certainly don’t like doing traditional business planning.

    In 10 years of running Digital Eskimo we have only ever written ONE business plan.

    founder had MBA - occasional update in the first 6-12 months it pretty much stayed in the drawer. After he left i lost it.

    Since, we've developed specific strategies/tactics

    - mimicked traditional business planning and strategic approaches.

    take off our jeans and put on our ill fitting business suits
    try to be business strategists for the day.



  • Recently we decided to revisit our strategic planning process ...

    not another SWOT driven list of strategies and tactics (though we did this too)

    not a standard business plan that would please an investor or my old business partner



  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • I wanted a living strategy,
    one we could iterate,
    one that embraced prototyping.
    It had to be collaborative and highly visual - very flexible ..... and lots of fun!

    but still with the rigour that would allow ultimately for tasks to be assigned to people

    to be delivered in time and budget constraints. 

    In short .. i wanted to design our strategy.

    I havent seen anything like this ..... so we prototyped it.

  • we ARE prototyping

    because its happening right now and is in constant flux

    Following our process - firstly we immersed further into our own business

    - we conducted research on key clients/prospects and past clients for instance.

    an external consultant from the CIIC to provide valuable objective advice
    our own staff about what they’d like to see happen.
    (1/3 of our team have direct involvement in and ownership of aspects of the strategy)

    We then spent significant time in Ideation - and continue to do so
    - first creating our 6 core objectives for the next couple of years for the company - followed by multiple brainstorming sessions generating hundreds of outlandish strategies and tactics to achieve them.


  • Next we designed a system to allow us to work with so many ideas

    a system that would also allow our team to at a glance see our strategy,

    input into it and develop

    a clear sense of where we are going.

    The result of this work is the DE Strategy Wonder Wall in our studio

    the use of post-its on a wall - as simple as that sounds - for our strategic plan - is actually critical.

    it affords behaviors that we wanted to encourage

    provides a highly visible and collaborative snap shot of our company strategy for all to see and interact with.

    Most importantly its A LIVING SYSTEM... not a dead document.

  • So thats how we've applied a Design Thinking approach to our own strategy.

    So what other things can Designers design?

    specifically what things can UX and Interactive Designers design most readily?

    One of the newest and grooviest areas

    where Design Thinking is starting to take hold is Service Design


  • In essence

    designing an interactive system is a form of service design albeit, in a constrained domain.

    if you're designing a system to meet the needs of users or customers

    - then you can view that system as providing a service to them and design it accordingly. 

    This is how we approach our UX work at Digital Eskimo.


  • Good Service Designers of course go further than the online systems,

    designing the  physical and cultural support systems,

    business processes and other components that create a great experience for people engaging with an organisation.

    Suze Ingram touched on this a while ago in a talk she gave at a Usability conference

    and we certainly believe it at Digital Eskimo

    Human Centred UX people make great Service Designers.

    We live in a service economy - so there's a nice big slice of that pie i showed you earlier up for grabs.

    And of course designing whole services

    - whether they be transport services or medical services -

    almost always means a better outcomes for people and the planet.

  • There are many other problems that design can tackle beyond services even

    .. but the ones that i find the most exciting are those that respond to the very messy problems of the world ...

    in particular climate change and social change.

    Not only is Design capable of solving almost any problem

    - its REALLY good at embracing and engaging with these complex - or wicked - problems.






  • The Change Agent project is a joint venture between DIgital Eskimo and the CIIC at UTS.

    The project aims to facilitate the creation of an open source toolkit

    to help designers to become capable of taking on the broader design challenges in the world ive been referring too.

    Consider it a share library for you to draw on (and input into) as you embrace these bigger problems and design for them.

    We’ll be co-creating with the design community

    - method libraries, case studies, stories and processes

    - a lot more we’ve yet to imagine.

    Designers and agencies will need time

    will provide road maps to assist in the process.









  • We ultimately hope to help designers like ourselves and you guys in the room become Design Thinkers - and Doers

    - as we increasingly engage with

    - embrace - and sometimes even solve the messiest problems of our times.




  • Web Directions South 2010 Design Thinking & Doing

    1. 1. Design Thinking (and doing) From a Digital to a World View David Gravina Creative Director Digital Eskimo Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    2. 2. Design Thinking (and doing) From a Digital to a World View David Gravina Creative Director Digital Eskimo Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    3. 3. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Design Thinking
    4. 4. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Design
    5. 5. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) “A process of creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained.” Dr Charles BurnetteDesign
    6. 6. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) An approach to solving problems. It embodies an ethos that values questioning,collaboration, creativity and learning through trial and error. Design “A process of creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained.” Dr Charles Burnette
    7. 7. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Design is a creative way of solving problems.
    8. 8. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) ThinkingWe create strategies by
    9. 9. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) ThinkingDesign
    10. 10. Strategic Design Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    11. 11. Shazaam! Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) ThinkingDesign Thinking Design http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwillia532/
    12. 12. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business)
    13. 13. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business) designer brief
    14. 14. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business) designer Hey guys ... maybe you should reconsider the iSnack idea!
    15. 15. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business)
    16. 16. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business)
    17. 17. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business)
    18. 18. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) strategy (business) We are on the cusp of a design revolution in business. As a result, today's business people don't need to understand designers better, they need to become designers. Roger Martin, Dean of Rottman School of Management
    19. 19. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    20. 20. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    21. 21. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    22. 22. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Digital Eskimo’s Design Process
    23. 23. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    24. 24. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    25. 25. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    26. 26. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    27. 27. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing)
    28. 28. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Service Design anyone?
    29. 29. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Service Design anyone?
    30. 30. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Service Design anyone?
    31. 31. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Change Agents
    32. 32. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Change Agents
    33. 33. Web Directions : Design Thinking (and doing) Change Agents .... recruiting now at changeagents@digitaleskimo.net

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