Design thinking origin story plus some of the people who made it all happen
Jo Szczepanska

Jo- nice piece! IDEO clearly pushed “HCD” into the executive suite with their books and consulting work. Of all the agencies they can likely be most thanked for making it part of the general business discussion.

But the heavy focus on IDEO at the end of your article does start to make it a puff piece for IDEO instead of expanding to discuss the myriad personalities, agencies, designers, and strategist that embrace this way of thinking (both before and after IDEOs formation) to make this something real and crucial to our modern environment.

To me, the clear omission in that trend is frog design, which you briefly note at the end, and specifically the work that Hartmut Esslinger did with Steve Jobs. While not necessarily HCD by today’s standards, their ruthless attention to design, detail, and human interaction paved the way for widespread adoption of these approaches in the years that followed. Arguably, Apple is the company that showed other companies that design-led innovation is a viable mass business strategy.

You obviously can’t write about everyone, and I’m biased because I once worked at frog, but highlighting all the IDEO folks and not mentioning Hartmut and some of the influential leaders of other agencies seems like a part of the story is missing.

Not criticism so much as feedback to help you expand on this topic because I found this to be a great and insightful read! Thanks for posting!

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