Five Reasons Design Thinking is a Fact, not a Fad

Photo by flattop341

Photo by flattop341

Ok. I might have ruffled some feathers with my last post. If your plumage was subjected to some mussing then this post is for you. Before getting to it though, I think I have to start with the same disclaimer: I neither support nor deny the above claim (in the title), and am merely going to lay out what I am seeing that could support the notion. Obviously there is a fair amount of weight on the "Design Thinking is a fad" side (as discussed here) - multiple definitions, no standard underlying process, questionable originality, etc.

So, why might Design Thinking be a fact, rather than a fad? Here's why: 

  1. It has lasted longer than the earliest naysayers thought - even Bruce Nussbaum's famous, Design Thinking is a Failed Experiment on Fast Company was written more than 2 years ago.
  2. It is easily searchable and highly visible as a term - where "Innovation" is broad (and gets a million tweets a minute), "Design Thinking" is narrow, and manageable, yet still an active conversation stream.
  3. It has a core following, many of whom have built their livelihoods around it - they are dependent upon its survival and will not let it go quietly.
  4. It is being spread through education - schools were some of the earliest and strongest adopters of design thinking, which means they are teaching it to more and more people, and we know there is strength in numbers. On the flip side, they are also fairly slow to change (sorry, educators), which suggests that they won't be dropping the design thinking case any time soon.
  5. It has value - most importantly, the process(es) attached to design thinking, and the premise(s), are wonderful value-adds in many if not all aspects of society today; real value creation is hard to argue against. 

Now you have heard both sides of the argument - where will the chips ultimately fall? What do you think? Weigh in!

- Clay Maxwell (@bizinovationist)