Is design thinking fundamentally conservative? Or have conservative institutions caught on to design thinking?

A response to Natasha Iskander’s article in Harvard Business Review

leesean
leesean
Oct 4, 2018 · 8 min read
  • It’s a marketing ploy for expensive consultants,
  • It’s a new name for an old method, and
  • It fundamentally privileges designers, and other elites who keep the power over the creative process
The author and David Colby Reed ponder: “Is design thinking just some creative conservative conspiracy to preserve the status quo?”

Is design thinking fundamentally conservative? Or have conservative institutions caught on to design thinking?

Design Thinking as Trojan Horse

The following scenario is a pattern that I often see in my work:

A concept for reimagining urban infrastructure, from a community co-design session led by Foossa.
The Design Double Diamond: Finding the right problem is half the battle

But what happens next? Institutional inertia.

Design thinking can make an opening for deeper conversations about power and participation, but I also admit that there is the danger that design thinking is used as kind of fairy dust of creativity to otherwise conservative cultures.

Let’s talk about power.

Now let’s return to Natasha Iskander’s HBR piece, where she claims that design thinking protects the powerful:

Different models or “dialects” of design thinking by Stephanie Gioia via Folletto

What do you think?

Is design thinking fundamentally conservative? Or do conservative institutions practice conservative forms of design thinking?

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leesean

Written by

leesean

Cofounder @FoossaNYC: I work for and with communities to tell stories, design services, and build new forms of shared value.

Foossa Files

Let’s design a better future. Together.