Understanding work context and current industry trends

Design Thinking from inside (part# 1)

Inês Bravo
Jun 20, 2016 · 5 min read

Our day to day work can lead to a continuous cycle of do-do-do and not to a more productive one: do-reflect-do. To work efficient with and/or inside organizations the learning curve should be there; the background should be study and reflection are mandatory for a project to be successful and push for User Centred Approach.

In order to understand better how can my day to day work practice could be improved, this is a set of research done about:

. Design Thinking: from concept to how to be adapted inside organization
. User Experience: from exploring how habits and behavior influence the design process, passing through the learning mind and design process
. Context, Design and UX: analysing how the environment influences the approach professionals needs to understand to push for User-Centred Approach

DT and Design

At 2011, Grefé states that “All design is experience design.” Design is a critical ingredient adding value in a multi-cultural world (Grefé, 2011). A multidisciplinary team is mandatory to solve problems, and understanding context is an essential aspect of the designer’s role (Grefé, 2011). Perception is real in the mind of the perceiver. When creating experiences, the individual involvement and context create a particular experience, different from the above (Hassenzahl, 2010).


Applying Design Thinking methods to an existing business culture is still a challenge but can be done when well framed. Designers working in companies that have a low UX maturity level can still thrive. Thinking the company in a holistic way has more gains, improving innovation and creativity; learning from past experiences, adding to present and future learning push teams to improve methodologies and apply new methods.

Encountering the value for Design Thinking and, ultimately, for User Experience brings companies, that have already their business models well defined, a new look and affect the innovation within the processes.

Design Thinking emerges as a different way when to formulating a business problem where the user point of view is also a condition to achieve the end, added to the technology feasibility and business viability that frames the outcome.

Applying Design Thinking

Nonlinear concepts and linear process are not as common inside the organization where “business as usual” empires; traditional business managers deals with non-measurable concepts like Creativity, Design and users behavior.

Applying Design Tinking methodology relays successfully on the way business tend to perceive the discipline as a process and a method, instead of a radically shifted way to do business. Understanding the value that designers capabilities built up by direct experience is a real paradigm shift that business can acknowledge.

Articulating the value of design and innovation with a continuing and strengthen customer focus led to, in companies like IBM, Philips, Google and Amazon, a recognition that the discipline is an essential part of the business success. Being Design a fragmented discipline, from an ideal job to making things, design thinking originated within academics that research designers and their discipline.

Collins (2013), explains what is Design Thinking in six adjectives: emergent, intuitive, addictive, reflective and ambiguous. Designers thinking the process is the relation between internal and external process. Like Kimbel (2011) refers, studying the way designers think and work comes back to 1960s.

Academic framing

According to the academic discourse, taking a human-centered approach, alongside with business and technology translates into the concept “Design Thinking”. This can be seen as the same concept of designerly thinking, framed as a buzzword into the business discourse.

Both names, “design thinking” and “designerly thinking” refers to an ongoing design practice. The first one relates to the profession in action; the second term, designerly thinking, refers to the relation between theory and practice from a design perspective, rooted more in the academic discourse. Johansson-Sköldberg, Woodilla and Çetinkaya (2013) opt for many discourses when designerly thinking is not perceived as a weakness but as matured level of the discipline.

Like Raney and Jacoby (2010) state, understanding how designers solve a problem and applying it in a business context can have a significant impact in how tasks and ideas grow. “Design Thinking is a way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and mindset of design practitioners. (…) A “design thinking” approach means more than just paying attention to aesthetics or developing physical products. Design Thinking is a methodology”. The quote from Kelley and Kelley book, Creative Confidence (2013, p. 47–48), it is evident when states that the human factor, as a point of view, is a condition to achieve the end. The methodology added to the technology feasibility and business viability will frame the solution.

On the ground — working day to day

Design thinking can also be narrowed to a toolbox (IDEO, 2009 — UsTwo, 2014). Formulating a deeper understanding of options available, refining ideas, can be perceived as Design Thinking in action; it can be a very uncomfortable place to be for a traditional business manager.

The analytical process to solve problems is a standard approach that managers deal every day. Reframing this though and taking a new approach to business, as a designer, is a challenge for business managers, but can lead to new ways to grow and sustain a business.

When IDEO’s Tom Kelley explored that business had more to gain with important design than with traditional business consultants, enabling business innovation, exposed the importance and potential of designers (and their work methods) engaging with companies, two ways of thinking were cleared revealed. Design Thinking term was coined by Tim Brown when new ways and approaches could be used as a problem­ solving method when applied to issues outside the traditional design domains.

Managers way of thinking and problem solving is different from designers way based Design Thinking in practice discourse. Brown, when writing to Harvard Business Review (2008, p. 86), about the concept Design Thinking, illustrates the idea by paralyzing with Edison’s way of doing innovation with direct observation.


  • Brown, T. (2008) Design Thinking, Harvard Business Review. June,issue pp. 85–92
  • Collins, H. (2013) Can Design Thinking Still Add Value? Design Management Review. Volume 24, Issue 2
  • Grefé, R. 2011. Experience Design Is the Only Design, Design Management Review. Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 26–30
  • Johansson-Sköldberg, U., Woodilla, J. + Çetinkaya, M. (2013) Design Thinking: Past, Present and Possible
  • Kelley, T. and D. (2012). Reclaim Your Creative Confidence. [Online] Available at: http://hbr.org/2012/12/reclaim-your-creative-confidence/ar/1.
  • Kimbell, L. (2011), Rethinking Design Thinking, part 1. Design and Culture. Volume 3 Number 3, pp.285–306
  • Raney, C. and Jacoby, R. (2010), “Decisions by Design: stop deciding, start designing”. Rotman Magazine. Winter 2010, pp. 36–39

UX, Design & limited resources

Resources are limited. As a User Experience Designer, the way that the world is perceived changes. A reflection experience by Inês Bravo.

Inês Bravo

Written by

user experience designer. strategist. visual geek. consultant. digital management. www.inesbravo.com. lisbon lover & world traveller. hyper island alumni.

UX, Design & limited resources

Resources are limited. As a User Experience Designer, the way that the world is perceived changes. A reflection experience by Inês Bravo.

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