Designers Think Differently

It’s one thing to say that design thinking, at its core, is about thinking the way designers think – but what does that really mean and how can you best articulate exactly what is unique about the way designers approach problems that leads to innovation. In this HBR Conversations Blog post titled “How Good Designers Think” Simon Rucker does a nice job of sharing his ideas on what makes the design thinking process unique. He does make a reference to a 2007 blog post by Bruce Nussbaum on the intangible assets of design thinkers. Rucker breaks down the work of designers into three areas: insight; inspiration; action.

Here are a couple of highlights from Rucker:

* “Good designers aim to move beyond what you get from simply asking consumers what they need and want” – Designers want to find out what consumers won’t tell them or directly ask for – that’s where great innovations come from – giving people something they want or think they need without them even asking for it. Don’t think of people as consumers – but as people who need/want things. So instead observe.

* “Good designers want to solve problems — and this makes them want to transform insights into inspiration.” – As has been said many times before here designers are about figuring out what the problem is and how to fix it. Good designers are inspired to imagine the future.

* “When good designers talk about innovation, they mean (and I make no apologies for cribbing Lord Sainsbury’s much-quoted definition), “the successful exploitation of new ideas.” They don’t stop with the invention. They turn their inspirations into reality.” This is perhaps the most important point for librarians. We may come up with many ideas, some of them actually even good, but we too often fail to move our ideas to the implementation stage. Rucker offers some thoughts on what enables designers to get to implementation from idea.

So if you prefer to keep things simple as you work to understand how designers think and as you integrate these principles into your practice, you might just find Rucker’s three-part formula effective:

1 – Insight: They Look at What We Don’t Know

2 – Inspiration: They Look for What to Do

3 – Action: They Keep Going

Insights. Inspiration. Action