Design Differently Through The Negative

Define boundaries, find opportunities, and build evaluative criteria.

Kevin Richard
Jun 7, 2020 · 3 min read

What do we mean with negative definitions?

Negative definitions are the idea that instead of defining what something is, you define what something isn’t. For example, if I had to define what type of car I want to buy, I can say: I don’t want it to be a truck, neither a limousine.

  1. Negativity bias: we all have a tendency to remember better negative events even when of equal intensity to positive ones. This bias makes negative events more salient as they require more cognitive resources to process.

A good tool for the start of projects

This way of defining things by the negative is especially interesting when the project you are working in is hard to grasp and the limits of the project aren’t clear to all stakeholders involved in it.

A good evaluation tool

Once you have defined the “don’t” of a project or the negative boundaries you can re-use after the start of the project. For example, you can ask yourself: “Does this feature that we are adding respect the fact that we don’t want to track employees?”

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Kevin Richard

Written by

Senior Designer & Strategist in the🇨🇭Banking industry. Critical / Design / Systems thinker, learner, practitioner —Design as a catalyst for change.

Design & Critical Thinking

D&CT is a community about building a shared understanding & collective knowledge at the intersection of different practices. We want to cross the boundaries of design, innovation, tech, change, management, ethics, (and more) to engage in discussions that bridge disciplines.

Kevin Richard

Written by

Senior Designer & Strategist in the🇨🇭Banking industry. Critical / Design / Systems thinker, learner, practitioner —Design as a catalyst for change.

Design & Critical Thinking

D&CT is a community about building a shared understanding & collective knowledge at the intersection of different practices. We want to cross the boundaries of design, innovation, tech, change, management, ethics, (and more) to engage in discussions that bridge disciplines.

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