More disciplined research will enable design thinkers to create better, more human-centered designs

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stick notes

Design Thinking has been championed and vilified. IDEO CEO Tim Brown defines it as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Design Thinking, contends IDEO, “can transform the way organizations develop products, services, and strategy.” In contrast, Natasha Iskander wrote recently that, “When it comes to design thinking, the bloom is off the rose,” citing Natasha Jen’s Design Thinking is B.S. Christian Madsbjerg, author of the book, Sensemaking, argues that Design Thinking is a “bullshit tornado,” dismissing the approach as anti-intellectual and “unhelpful to creative thinkers.” Madsbjerg puts his finger on a central problem with Design Thinking: Although design thinkers claim to discover needs, wants, and emotional hot buttons, they often conduct what Madsbjerg calls “drive-by anthropology.” …


Robert J. Morais

Robert J. Morais is a Lecturer at Columbia Business School. A Ph.D. in anthropology, his 35+ years in business encompass advertising and market research.

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