Five Reasons Design Thinking is a Fad

Photo by Gundars.Str

Photo by Gundars.Str

I think I should start this with a disclaimer: I neither support nor deny the above claim, and am merely going to lay out what I am seeing that could support the notion. That said, Design Thinking is undeniably trendy. It is everywhere. Schools are bringing it into their curriculum, consultancies (including our own) are touting it as core to their processes, and organizations are trying to work it into their daily operations. None of these are bad things. But, in spite of this apparent energy, will Design Thinking go the way of 'synergy' as a business buzzword? That's my question. Here's why it might:

  1. Design Thinking, the term with a capital "D" capital "T", doesn't quite capture what it has come to mean, that is, if you actually agree on what it means (see #2).
  2. There is no standard - the definitions and associated processes (just compare a google search of DT process visuals) are numerous and varied.
  3. People have started to replace it with terms of their own - "Design Doing", "Design Mindset", "Whole-Brained Thinking", etc.
  4. It's not unique - dig into any element, any principle of Design Thinking (whatever it means to you), has it been done before? Yes.
  5. People are talking about it being a fad - those that are using other terms and/or view DT as a fad are creating momentum that is self-fulfilling, and will be hard for Design Thinking to fight against. 

Those of you who are red-faced after reading this post, fear not - my next post will be on why design thinking is a fact. Cliffhanger! But, do let me know what you agree with, disagree with, or what else could be on this list!

- Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)