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The socio economic impact of creative products and services developing the creative industries through design thinking


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The socio-economic impact of creative products/services: developing the creative industries through design thinking.

Design thinking, although it has been growing in popularity, is still seen with some distrust, given that its impact is difficult to quantify and its benefits are subjective. This paper wants to address that distrust and contribute to clear it by providing some information about what it can do for companies by taking a look at creative products and services. First, we review the meaning of creative products and services, the concept of innovation, introduce design and some of its applications, as well as its economic impact and move to the meaning of design thinking. Second, we discuss the literature review and establish our findings. Finally, we end with our conclusions and contributions.

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The socio economic impact of creative products and services developing the creative industries through design thinking

  1. 1. The socio-economic impact of creative products and services: developing the creative industries through design thinking BRUNO PIRES, AND JOANA CEREJO Catholic university – Oporto, Portugal; ABSTRACT Design thinking, although it has been growing in popularity, is still seen with some distrust, given that its impact is difficult to quantify and its benefits are subjective. This paper wants to address that distrust and contribute to clear it by providing some information about what it can do for companies by taking a look at creative products and services. First, we review the meaning of creative products and services, the concept of innovation, introduce design and some of its applications, as well as its economic impact and move to the meaning of design thinking. Second, we discuss the literature review and establish our findings. Finally, we end with our conclusions and contributions. KEYWORDS: Creative Industries, Innovation, Creativity, Design, Design Thinking 1. INTRODUCTION 'Being a product of the mind, creativity has a fundamental intangible dimension. The creative product derives its value from the artistic and human talents incorporated in it at different stages: creation, production, reproduction and distribution'. (World Intellectual Property Organization, 2006:9) In times of austerity and economical recession there seems to occur a natural appeal to the individuals’ creative nature in order to propose new solutions to the challenges that the world faces in every socio-economic crisis cycle.
  2. 2. Creative Industries are strongly dependent on creativity but, despite being used for some years, this concept is still going over a period of uncertainty. Even without a consensual definition for this economical sector, some entities have risked to come forward with what they understand for creative industries, interpretations followed by a set of subsectors representing the economical sector in hand. Although it sounds reducer, it seems legit to assume that the creative industries give origin to creative products and services. However, the common claims that creativity is everywhere, thus, turning all products and services into creative designs, make it pertinent to bring forth what it is perceived to be a creative product. Understanding what is seen as a creative product takes us towards concepts like 'newness', 'innovation' or 'design', amongst others, allowing us to start seeing why the creative industries have been evolving and growing exponentially to become an economical force, even during the international crisis we have been facing. There is the notion that creativity is an increasingly important tool that fosters economic growth as well as innovation goals. This new context in the current creativity paradigm provides an exciting and challenging model for cross-economic fields, including areas such as engineering, science and design, converging into an effective field of innovation and creativity. 2. METHODOLOGY The research method developed during this study was based on a literature review. Denyer and Tranfield (2009:671, apud Tranfield et al, 2003) state that literature reviewing has a 'critical role' in “doctoral theses and journal publications” as well as a 'potential role' in “creating and building bodies of knowledge and informing policy and practice”. The same authors mention a 'systematic review', which is a specific methodology that locates existing studies, selects and evaluates contributions, analyses and synthesizes data, and reports the evidence in such a way that allows reasonably clear conclusions to be reached about what is and is not know. Danyer and Tranfield (p. 672) also add that a
  3. 3. systematic review has been argued to bring replicate, scientific, and transparent approach, which seeks to minimize bias (NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, 2001) and requires reviewers to summarize all existing information about a phenomenon in a thorough and unbiased manner. More widely, systematic reviews have been argued also to have value in collating and synthesizing existing evidence across a wide range of settings (including the social sciences) and empirical methods (Petticrew, 2001). Tranfield et al. (2003:209) also talk about minimizing bias through exhaustive literature searches of published and unpublished studies and by providing and audit trail of the reviewers decisions, procedures and conclusions (Cook, Mulrow and Haynes, 1997). These authors quote (p. 215) Mulrow (1994) to add that “systematic review has been argued to provide the most efficient and highquality method for identifying and evaluating extensive literatures”. Danyer and Tranfield quote (p. 674) Petticrew (2001) once more to say that ...systematic review is an efficient technique for hypothesis testing, for summarizing the results of existing studies, and for assessing the consistency among previous studies. Costa (2008:70), uses Yin (2003) to state that a basic categorization of the types of questions is the common series: “who”, “what”, “where”, “how”, and “why”. The research questions, per se, determine the purpose or phase of the investigation: a) exploratory, b) descriptive, and c) explanatory. For example, “what” questions are usually exploratory, whereas “how” and “why” questions are likely to be more explanatory. Empirical research also requires planning research designs, relying on data-gathering techniques, and choosing methods for data analysis and validation. Our research question is "what is the advantage of using design thinking as a tool for the development of creative products/services?". Giving the fact that the nature of the question relies on 'what', our approach is made from a theoretical point-of-view.
  4. 4. 3. CREATIVE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES For Kotler and Armstrong (2012:224), a product is 'anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that might satisfy a want or need', specifying that products can be 'physical objects, services, events, persons, places, organizations, ideas or a mixture of these'. Speaking about creative products, Horn and Salvendy (2009:224) state that 'product creativity is defined as the subjective judgment of a product to exhibit novelty and appropriateness that elicits an emotional response'. As for Buchanan (2001:9), ‘Products’ represent the formal cause, in the sense of the formal outcome of the design process that serves human beings. And “in the accomplishment of their individual and collective purposes” represents the material cause of design, in the sense that the subject matter or scope of application of design is found in the activities, needs, and aspirations of human beings. Horn and Salvendy (2009:237) link product creativity with innovation and design by recalling that A great deal of literature addresses the role, process, and improvement of innovation in product development. Product innovation addresses the newness or frequency of a product including: product newness to firm, product newness to customers, product newness to market, technical uncertainty, and technical inexperience or newness (Garcia & Calanton, 2002). Each of these factors can influence the assessment of this novelty dimension of product creativity, and should be considered when designing creative products. Kotler and Armstrong (2012:224) describe a service as 'a form of product that consists of activities, benefits, or satisfactions offered for sale that are essentially intangible and do not result in the ownership of anything'. 4. INNOVATION Innovation is commonly considered the pathway to regain economic independence. Innovation, however, seems to have an incomplete meaning in the eyes of many. To Bessant (2009:6) the concept of innovation is based on the argument of, that the word "innovation" is commonly used in many subjects today – “while the word itself is
  5. 5. popular, the concept of innovation remains poorly defined". Jahnke (2009:224) mentions that the understanding of what can be included in the concept of innovation is expanding. Today scholars also include innovation of processes (e.g. Schroeder, 1990), services (e.g. Thomke, 2003) and management practises (Birkinshaw, 2006). The same author (p. 224) continues to remind that some researchers step outside of these discourses, like Verganti (2006) who argues that the concept of innovation should also include messages and meanings and Mensch (1979) who proposed that innovation also concerns social aspects. Sethi et al (2001:73) state that 'multiple studies have found that the primary determinant of new product failure is an absence of innovativeness - the extent to which a new product provides meaningfully unique benefits'. Bilton (2007:24) emphasizes the role of innovation by stressing that innovation is at a premium in organizations as the source of new products, new markets and (increasingly) new business processes. The organizational capacity for innovation and creativity has taken on a renewed significance, with the shift from an economy based on material products and transactions towards a 'creative economy' in which ideas and knowledge are the new capital. Jahnke (2009:225) also considers that Innovation, or rather the generation of novelty, is an inherent aspect of the profession of design (Lawson, 2006). The concept of innovation as understood by engineering and management discourses is, however, rarely used in design practice or research. Jahnke's words seem to place design practice or research ahead of engineering and management, which sounds interesting and, somehow, provocative. Jahnke's as well as Horn and Salvendy's words place design as an important discipline for innovation. Also the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), on its Economic Paper (2005:23) values the role of design on innovation, saying that innovation through design can help firms to avoid competing on price alone. While some consumers will always buy the cheapest product or service in the market, non-price
  6. 6. attributes, such as quality can often be more important determinants of overall demand than price. What can be inferred is that innovation is not only about having a good idea, but it is also about putting that idea into practice. Bessant (2009:6) proposes that a working definition of innovation could be: innovation = ideas + implementation. Thus, the idea needs to become the focus for an organization in order to impact working processes that increase efficiency and sustainability. Newton et al (2009:474) said that 'innovation is simply an idea that is perceived as being new to those involved in discovering it, and that the nature of the idea can be technical (product or service) or administrative (process)'. Utterback et al (2006:1) speak of design-inspired innovation, which 'is, in essence, a synthesis of technology and users' experiences' and in 'design-inspired innovation, the balance among technology, market and meaning is unique'. (p. 6) The authors add (p. 1) that 'most innovation improves products along accepted trajectories of higher performance and lower cost'. Innovation is a long process and its connection with design should start at the very beginning. Utterback et al (p. 149) agree by stating that the greatest innovative value is realized when designers are engaged early on and permitted to participate all the way through the process, including with last-minute changes or practical adjustments to the product. 5. DESIGN For Lawson (2005:14), Design is a highly complex and sophisticated skill. It is not a mystical ability given only to those with recondite powers but a skill, which, for many, must be learnt and practiced rather like the playing of a sport or a musical instrument. Design has spread its influence during the past decades, becoming more important for companies wanting to grow and looking to gain competitive advantage. For Buchanan
  7. 7. (2001:9), “design is the human power of conceiving, planning, and making products that serve human beings in the accomplishment of their individual and collective purposes”.   From Jahnke's (2009:223) perspective, 'industry has increasingly turned to creativity-intense professions like design and art in search of clues on how to revitalize innovation'. This search for clues highlights the need for looking from new perspectives, and Jahnke (p. 225) quotes Lawson (2006) and Cross (2006) to state that 'the designer instead favors the perspective of the user and the maintaining of an open mind to any types of solutions which may improve a situation'. Design as the path for solutions is also what Kolko (2011:39) believes as he mentions that a designer attempting to produce an innovative design will conduct research focusing on the experiential, emotional, and personal aspects of culture. This research will describe an opportunity — design research acts as problem finding. Kolko (p. 34) adds that 'the philosophy of design research' is 'to learn from people and to emphasize people'. 5.1. Design for products and services In 1995, Bloch (p. 16) quoted Bruce and Whitehead (1988) to mention a survey made to senior marketing managers, where 'design was mentioned as the most important determinant of new product performance by 60% of respondents; only 17% considered price most important'. (p. 16) Bloch adds that 'similarly, an analysis of the performance of 203 new products revealed that product design was the most important determinant of sales success (Cooper and Kleinschmidt, 1987)'. This connection between design and product performance resulting on successful sales is explained by Horn & Salvendy (2009:223) who state that 'the enhanced products will provide greater consumer satisfaction, engagement, and acceptance (Hart, Hultink, Tzokas, & Commandeur, 2003; Rodriguez, Ricart, & Sanchez, 2002)'. These authors reinforce this argument by adding that some 'consistent findings indicate that product creativity (primarily through the Affect dimension) plays a role in the consumer’s willingness to purchase and potential satisfaction with the product.' (p. 233) This 'affect dimension' is an emotional bond the consumer creates with the product, and Horn and Salvendy (p. 236) mention Norman's words to explain that 'emotional design by Norman (2004a) describes the importance and increasing value of emotional appeal in consumer product and interface
  8. 8. design'. Kotler and Armstrong (2012:225) also value the 'experience' factor stating that 'Companies that market experiences realize that customers are really buying much more than just products and services. They are buying what those offers will do for them'. This point-of-view about what a product can do for the customer takes us to one essential quality: usefulness. Horn and Salvendy (2009:236) consider the relation between a product design and its usefulness and remind us that a product can be creative without having usability and vice versa. However, the usability of a product may enhance the product creativity and the product creativity may enhance the perception of product usability. Bilton (2007:3) also follows a relation between creativity and usefulness by arguing that 'creative ideas must demonstrate "fitness for purpose"'. DTI (2005:23) enumerates several contributions design gives to goods and services by stating that used effectively, design can play a key role in product and service innovation. Design can alter or add performance and user characteristics such as style, durability, color, reliability, texture, ergonomics, and user interface with services. Each good or service represents some combination of these characteristics or properties and, as argued by Lancaster (1966), these attributes can be considered as determining consumer utility and satisfaction. Indeed, many such characteristics are commonly associated with product quality. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), on its 2006 document 'Managing creative enterprises' (p. 61), points that since novelty is an intrinsic characteristic of the products of creative enterprises, the producer should be able to allay the consumer’s uncertainty about the product’s quality. Quality in this case means not only functionality but also includes many other more or less subjective characteristics. WIPO (p. 61) goes a little further and adds one other significant aspect of a product by saying that the product definition process should pay attention to the product’s presentation, such as packaging. Many creative cultural goods are both aesthetic and semiotic and these
  9. 9. characteristics have to be considered as to content as well as the form in which the content is presented. Design has changed its scope and goes beyond designing artefacts. Design through service design extends to the experience that clients have with products, services, spaces or even multidimensional experiences. According to Stickdorn and Schneider (2012:126), 'the very first step of a service design process is to design the process itself'. 5.2. Connecting with consumers Coming up with a new and creative product through designing efforts seems to have some advantages. Consumer perception appears to alter in favor of those creative endeavors. Horn and Salvendy (2009:239) are keen to reinforce this point by saying that studies reveal that product creativity plays a role in consumer behavior. Although no previous studies have shown a strong connection between product creativity and consumer satisfaction or willingness to purchase, this study supports that at least one of the product creativity dimensions (Affect) explains the variance of willingness to purchase (69% to 75%) and customer satisfaction with (71% to 77%) consumer products. These results indicate that product creativity to some degree influences the level of satisfaction with and willingness to purchase consumer products. Consumers have become more and more demanding as the scope of products available in the market widens. More than identifying their behavior is to understand what triggers that same behavior. Prahalad and Sawhney (2011:2) understand that it is possible to connect emotionally with consumers through design and add that The focus of this approach is squarely on the individuals, specifically their emotions, aspirations, and connections as the starting point for strategy and design. Tracking the individual experience and emotional response is the goal of the process, rather than creating new functions and features alone. The test of success lies in whether the design empowers individuals and creates a meaningful experience. 5.3. Process Design 'It is not a mystical ability given only to those with recondite powers but a skill which, for many, must be learnt and practiced rather like the playing of a sport or a musical instrument' (Lawson, 2005:14)
  10. 10. Up until recently, design was seen as a two dimensional scope to enhance products both on the visual and touch level. As design evolved, its influence has spread and design is becoming more and more relevant for earlier areas of intervention. Buchanan (1992:14) points that 'recent conferences on design are evidence of a coherent, if not always systematic, effort to reach a clearer understanding of design as an integrative discipline'. DTI (2005:22) states that 'process design can also raise efficiency of production or consumption of a service, improving business productivity'. DTI (p. 23) goes on and adds that   design can support the development of new products and services, or innovation around existing products and services. Elements of design, particularly graphic design, will form part of a product, service and company branding and advertising strategy. Process design can also improve business efficiency. The early stages of development provide key arguments to product so it may become successful. The design process is what puts creativity into action. The earlier design is applied the more chances there are that business efficiency may improve. As DTI (p. 21) seems eager to point out, creativity in itself is a necessary but clearly not sufficient condition for innovation. Creativity needs to be channeled the right way. Design and R&D can be seen as ways of channeling creativity for commercial advantage. Once again, another key stage like R&D was highlighted in order to sustain the importance of applying, correctly, creative instruments to achieve market advantage. DTI (p. 26) assumes that design influences production costs by saying that 'design decisions can affect production costs, potentially lowering prices or whole life costs. Process design can improve production efficiency' and also adds that design may improve firm performance by changing the value of outputs (goods and services produced), costs of inputs (resources used in production), and the efficiency with which inputs are turned into outputs. On the same document, DTI (p. 25) considers that design can also affect the life-cycle of a product. Where reliability is higher, service costs are likely to be lower, decreasing overall life costs. Process design can alter the way
  11. 11. products are put together in the factory or the efficiency with which customers consume a service. Also aiming for a change in a product's life-cycle, Potuzakova et al (2011:189) said that We believe that industrial designers are devoted and trained to initiate the radical innovations of meaning, and on the basis of that create products that sidesteps the competition, and with life cycles significantly longer than that of the competition. It seems fair to assume that a longer life cycle is a result of a longer 'hype' cycle, which results in a stronger presence of a certain product in the market, with a significant positive financial outcome. For Newton el al (2009:473) the inclusion of creativity and innovation may increase process performance and recall that The challenge that faces all organizations is not only to foster creativity and innovation that generates inventions and innovation, but to also ensure that good ideas and improved processes are effectively adopted and adapted. Aiming towards the importance of integrating design in every step of the way, Utterback et al (2006:60) recall that some elements of design work are R&D, including designs and drawings to define procedures, technical specifications, and operational features needed to conceive, develop, and manufacture new products and processes. 5.4. Economic impact of design The Danish National Agency for Enterprise and Housing (NAEH) performed a study in 2003 to measure the impact of design. The results were as follows: a. 'There is marked correlation between the use of design and the economic performance of companies and subsequent macroeconomic growth. Furthermore, it is apparent that companies where design is a core issue and which purchase design services both internally and externally perform better' (p. 3); b. 'Danish companies that purchase design have registered a total increase in their gross revenue over the past 5 financial years that is approx. DKK 58 billion higher
  12. 12. than that for companies, which do not purchase design. This equates to approx. 22% above-average growth in gross revenue' (p. 4); c. 'Companies which have experienced an increase in design activity (i.e. in investments in design-related employee training or external procurement of design services) achieve an additional 40% gross revenue increase compared to companies where design activity is either constant or has decreased' (p. 4); d. 'Companies that employ design professionals and purchase design externally export 34% of their turnover on average compared to 18% by companies that have adopted a different design purchasing behavior or none at all' (p. 4); e. 'There is positive correlation between design and employment since job creation is higher in companies that employ design compared to companies with no design activity' (p. 4); f. 'The largest increase in export share of turnover is achieved where a systematic approach to design has been adopted, namely companies that employ professional designers and purchase design externally. The increase in exports is twice the size in companies that employ designers and purchase design externally (33.5%) compared to companies that neither employ designers nor purchase design externally (17.6 %)' (p. 33); g. 'The analysis does not identify design as the sole contributor to higher revenue. Investment in design very likely presupposes a certain level of economic success due to the high cost of investment. In turn, the revenue generated by the investment allows the company to reinvest in design'. (p. 34) The NAEH stresses the internal and external gains with design. The internal effect is in line with what was previously said about the intervention of design in earlier stages. In the c. point, it appears that companies which achieved the 40% gross revenue increase are the ones which are continuously betting on design. This continuous effort is seen in the results when these are compared with the ones from companies where that bet is constant, which somehow underlines the permanent evolution of design and the need for companies to maintain updated at all times in order to secure any advantage they might have. The impact on exports is also worthy of mention, placing design as a vital discipline for companies wanting to conquer new markets. Relevance should also be given to positive correlation between design and employment, turning design not only into an economical force but also into a positive social contributor.
  13. 13. This idea is reinforced by the 2008 Creative Economy Report, which states (p. 24) that 'a major social impact of the creative industries is their contribution to employment'. WIPO (2006:21) considers that creative goods permit economies of scale: Such content goods can bring profits to their producers through economies of scale. Once the intangible contribution has been mobilized, the unit price of the product or service will decrease as the number of products or services sold increases. Recovering the social impact of design, the 'Design and social impact' document from The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts and The Lemelson Foundation, mentions that It involves the design of graphic and digital communications, of domestic products, medical devices and farming equipment, of buildings and transportation, and of large infrastructure systems. These designers also tackle critical issues that are less concrete — such as the fragility and lack of equal access to natural resources, or the barriers to health and educational services in poor communities globally. Such designers can be found equally in the realms of economic development, community improvement, and disaster relief. (p. 8) Utterback et al (2006:19) state that 'some firms have linked a competitive benefit to contracting for design'. The same authors (p. 128) explain that Sweden has an uneven and varied industrial scope, which differ from other Nordic countries. For the author, the Swedish economy can almost be viewed as the ideal laboratory for examining how design interacts with their local Industries. Design has an important position in the nation. Partnerships are constantly being fostered with the local design focused universities. Following this idea, Utterback et al (p. 132) argue that 'Many Swedish firms have been instrumental in bringing new knowledge from universities and institutes to influence product development projects with clients'. This shows that the designer may act as an agent between industrial needs and R&D efforts. For Müller et al (2008), in terms of economy, the Creative Industries are relevant in its effort to achieve technological innovation in accordance with industrial innovation. The author also claims that 'Creative Industries are a major source of innovative ideas and thus contribute to an economy’s innovative potential and generation of new products and services'.
  14. 14. Prahalad and Sawhney (2011:12) advance with an explanation for why design is an important tool for economic growth by stating that The ultimate goal of design is not merely making things that people enjoy or creating awareness of the company. When design creates feelings of empowerment, people are eager to share their experience with others. This cycle is essential to generating demand virally and building brand loyalty. However, DTI (2005:28) quotes Piirainen (2001) to say that ‘design alone cannot be accredited for a product’s success or failure’. 6.  Design  Thinking   Design thinking is seen as the next step of innovation. Buchanan (1992:5) reminds us of that design has gained new developments as '(...) we have seen design grow from a trade activity to a segmented profession to a field for technical research and to what now should be recognized as a new liberal art of technological culture'. Now, design thinking appears to be more than a simple aesthetic design skill. When speaking of design thinking, Buchanan (p. 5) added that 'no single definition of design, or branches of professionalized practice such as industrial or graphic design, adequately covers the diversity of ideas and methods gathered together under the label'. Anderson (2007, p.1), 'Design has long been recognized as a problem solving task, but there is a strong current within the design profession that recognizes design as an activity beyond that of simply fitting together pieces of a given puzzle'. Kolko (2011:31) values new forms of thinking by mentioning that businesses are increasingly realizing that not just quantitative research but also qualitative research combined with creative thinking can lead to new and interesting ideas for products, services, and systems. Kolko (p. 31) adds that businesses are increasingly realizing that not just quantitative research but also qualitative research combined with creative thinking can lead to new and interesting ideas for products, services, and systems
  15. 15. and also with the recent popularity of the phrases “design thinking” and “innovation,” designers have been asked to participate in these strategic conversations. Designers are increasingly expected to discuss not just how to solve a problem but also which problems to consider solving. They are increasingly pressured to speak with clarity about product launches, strategic product road mapping, competitive marketplace trends, short- and long-term revenue opportunities, partnerships and sponsorships, and other issues related to the business of design. (p. 39) For Prahalad and Sawhney (2011:2), design thinking is emotionally connecting with consumers through design. The focus of this approach is squarely on the individuals, specifically their emotions, aspirations, and connections as the starting point for strategy and design. Tracking the individual experience and emotional response is the goal of the process, rather than creating new functions and features alone. The test of success lies in whether the design empowers individuals and creates a meaningful experience. Design is no longer restricted to the surface of things and how they look and it is not only employed at the end of the product-development process. According to Cross, (2010:99 apud Archer 1979 & Cross 1982) in his paper “Design Thinking as a Form of Intelligence,” he exposed that the origins of research focused on design thinking lie in the attempts to define design as a discipline in its own right (in the mid-1970s and early 1980s). An important step in this approach, it was written by the hands of Lawson (1980) when the he introduced the study of “How designers think”. However, previously Simon’s (1969) by design research he establish a new interpretation of design in his book ‘Science of the Artificial’. 7.  Discussion   Along the literature review, it was possible to assist to countless purposes for design, far from the ones that are equivocally assigned to design. Analyzing the mindset of design, we were able to watch design being used for more than just the visual component or even the symbolic aspects. However, design is being
  16. 16. more and more integrated on early stages, showing its cross-sectorial advantages. As Buchanan (1992:14) said, 'recent conferences on design are evidence of a coherent, if not always systematic, effort to reach a clearer understanding of design as an integrative discipline'. During the literature review, examples were mentioned of design being used for social aspects, for innovation, for problem solving, for product performance, for sales success, for emotional connection, for production efficiency and for process performance, thus increasing its weight inside an organization (figure 1). Figure 1 – Design role into organizations If design, seen from a traditional perspective, is essentially applied during the final stage of a product/service conception, than it seems that the evolution of design that Buchanan mentioned is pushing this transversal discipline to earlier stages and it seems that this involvement of design on early stages has been happening for some years. However, only recently this evolution has been connected with the design thinking mindset, aimed at defining that same evolutionary step. Analyzing the weight of design, it appears difficult not to empower the using of design as a reliable tool for economic growth. Empowering seems to be the right word as postmodern marketing is also trying to empower the consumer by trying to know what products can do for them. This different approach points towards a need to connect with consumers on a whole new level. Comprehending emotions became, therefore, a logic step to link products, services, companies, organizations with the growingly demanding customers. This need for connecting with the costumer brings forth the necessity to integrate him in the very beginning of the stage, before any other decisions are made. This early integration breaks up with the traditional understanding of design scope.
  17. 17. Even more than adding aesthetics and functionality values in order to connect with consumers, it was possible to witness several applications of design in production stages. When being applied to the development stage, it may, or not, have in mind the data collected from the potential consumer previous study. After the development, it is possible to look deeply into the production phase, where design has also the purpose of improving the mechanics and making process, in order to do better use of raw materials aiming to reduce production costs, improving process performance and efficiency. Design is also seen as a tool to enhance innovation and R&D, which has future impact on production's results. The marked correlations with economic performance, the improved performance of companies investing in design, the positive correlation between design and employment, the exporting rates improvements through design and, besides employment impact, other social benefits like community improvement, amongst others, place design on a new level. From data collection to its interpretation (where an emotional connection starts to take place to improve the sense of experience), production improvement, process performance gains, product optimization along with visual 'finishing touches' culminating on longer life-cycles, branding loyalty and even design to improve sales success (through viral demand), Buchanan's understanding of design as an integrative discipline seems accurate. This diversity of applications brings to light one important observation: if traditional design is superficial and yet, design is applied along the value chain, challenging thinking methods of data collection, production, promotion and selling, it seems safe to assume that all the advantages here attributed to design can be also attributed to design thinking. To invest on design a company needs to be in a good financial situation, as NAEH pointed out. This seems simple to explain, as a designer's work is highly specific and hardly replaced by any other do to his creative mind. However, as Lawson was keen to stress, design is a skill that needs to be trained. Adding to this, IDEO's Human Centered Design (HCD) Toolkit1, allows non-designers to improve their chances to develop new                                                                                                                         1  https://hcd-­‐connect-­‐  
  18. 18. solutions. It appears that with proper training and with some already existing methods or guidelines, anyone can aim to come up with new and useful solutions. If this occurs, it is possible that the costs of investing in design may decrease, through open source toolkits that companies may provide to their own workers. Design thinkers, by challenging thinking patterns, standard behavior and emotions, produce solutions that create new meanings and stimulate different aspects (cognitive, emotional and sensory) involved in the human experience. Like design itself, design thinking is a choice. It is an approach to solving problems where the variables are complex, the data incomplete, and the outcome uncertain. From design thinking it is expected to produce unexpected results. We could identify design thinking as an exciting new paradigm for dealing with problems in many professions — most notably IT (e.g., Brooks 2010) and Business (e.g., Martin 2009). Traditionally, design has been considered as a visually driven activity. However, in some way, design thinking disrupts this stereotype conveyed by traditional education. 8.  Conclusion   'Most outsiders see design as an applied art, as having to do with aesthetics, unlike a solid profession unto itself, with technical knowledge, skills, and responsibilities to rely on. Insiders to design, by contrast, talk of innovative ideas, coordinating the concerns of many disciplines, being advocates for users, and trying to balance social, political, cultural, and ecological considerations'. Krippendorf (2006:47) This paper helps us to extending design towards design thinking by analyzing it from several perspectives: social, product, consumer, process, economic and organization. It starts with the consumer, flowing through processes, products and the organization itself and back to the consumer to deliver a finished product/service. Design thinking has an internal (product, process, organization and economic) importance as well as external (social, consumer and economic). The economic perspective appears both on the internal
  19. 19. and external dimensions as the impact can be seen, for instance, in sales and in exports, influencing other industries. The economical factor is also both direct (e.g. sales) and indirect (e.g. employment). Design thinking tools may allow for even small enterprises to benefit from innovation at lowers costs, which might help them to grow. For these reasons, design thinking represents a big change in the actual design paradigm. In summary, by studying the impact of creative products and services we consider that design thinking could become a catalyst to the upstream and downstream flow of economic growth. Upstream, as it effects related organizations, companies, and projects, which capture ideas and solutions — a direct incentive to creativity and productivity. Downstream, as design thinking provides a creation of dynamic environments. As a result, the relationship that design has with other knowledge-based fields is very dynamic and could be entrepreneurial — this is the main advantage that design thinking can provide for economic growth, especially to creative industries. This paper, thus, contributes to reinforce the need to integrate design thinking methodology and process to support an economic growth, as design thinking will maintain the creative economy, as well as the others which will benefit from the spillover effect, healthy and growing at a faster rate. The creative industries are a precious engine for the economy and design thinking benefits, despite of any subjectivity, seem to be getting clearer. REFERENCES Anderson, P. (2007). Sound Thinking in fourth order Design. Ms.C Dissertation. Graduate program in Art, Art History and design, University of Notre Dame. 56 pp. Bessant, J. (2009). Innovation. DK Publishing. ISBN: 978-0-7566-5555-6 Bilton, C. (2007). Management and creativity: From creative industries to creative management. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-4051-1995-5 Bloch, P. (1995). Seeking the ideal form: Product design and consumer response. Journal of Marketing, Vol. 59, No.3, Pages 16-29.
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