Where Science Meets Muse

Design Thinking, Shminking…It’s About Being Human

Posted by Plish on June 8, 2010

I read this little tidbit over at Fast Company about how Design Thinking will give way to the next big thing: Hybrid Design.   I found myself having the same thoughts as those who responded to the article.  Most of those folks believed there was nothing really new being mentioned in the article other than the creation of  a new term to describe what’s already been happening for a while – a loooooong while.

So it got me thinking.

We call it “design thinking’ but a key aspect of design thinking is actually doing.   It’s about thinking by acting, or perhaps more properly, thinking through acting…

but then, maybe it’s by thinking by and through acting…

~Switch gears~

…While watching the Stanley Cup playoffs at my brother’s house, my kindergarten aged niece asked me to play a game entitled, “Invisible, Shminvisible.”

Even though my niece explained it carefully, I wasn’t able to really figure it out through listening.  So, I started playing the game with her and she and her older brother directed me.  Soon, I was a participant in the game.  It made sense.

Which brings us back to the discussion at hand.  I learned by playing and through playing.  It wasn’t about sitting down with a rule book (which I ‘m thankful for because I’m quite sure that such a book would be at least 5 – 10 pages long if penned in “instruction manual” lingo.)  It was about the wonderful process of looking, understanding and making.

So, bringing us full  circle here:

The evolution of Design Thinking isn’t so much about applying something new as it is reappropriating something which is essentially human; something that is so ubiquitous while growing up that it’s taken for granted and expected from our children.  In fact, if they don’t exhibit this type of behaviour we think they have developmental problems.

Interestingly, adults exhibiting this behavior are often scorned as not being serious enough, of not getting to solutions in mature and expedient fashions –  of perhaps even having psychological problems.

In actuality, these adults are exhibiting neotenic traits.


Neoteny.  It’s when adults of a species retain traits of the juveniles of the species. 

Play, prototyping, looking, understanding, testing – all neotenic traits.

That’s where all this should be going, or should I say, that’s where we’ve all been.

Think about it…

Think about your youth, when the days flew quickly by because you and your friends were engrossed in play, fully engaged in acting out scenarios or building structures.

Sure you were thinking but it was almost incidental in some ways.   You were thoroughly present  in the ‘now’, the past and future meant nothing.   You were active in being, you were rejoicing and living your humanness with every fiber of your being.

That is what Design Thinking is about – which is why Design Thinking isn’t really a good phrase.

Neither is Design Doing, or Design Being, or even Neotenic Design (even though I kinda dig that phrase).

It’s about human beings doing, and doing being humans; accepting that wonderful sacred time of ‘now’ when the works of our hands and our observations meet in a brilliant nexus of understanding, forever carrying us from glorious ‘now’ to ‘now’.

One Response to “Design Thinking, Shminking…It’s About Being Human”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael Plishka, Greg Ash. Greg Ash said: Design Thinking isn’t applying the "new," it is reappropriating essential human traits…playing, looking, understanding: http://ow.ly/1W7DY […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: