Con este post, de lo que espero sea una larga (aunque esporádica) serie, comienzo un nuevo campo de aprendizaje y exploración que se inició realmente con el 2008 pero que solo ahora empiezo a hacer público. Como intento siempre, utilizaré este blog como herramienta de diálogo y aprendizaje, como un prototipo intangible para ideas y modelos que están en continua actualización. Uno de estos conceptos es el de design thinking, “pensamiento de diseño”, como proceso emergente en que confluyen muchas de las tendencias que trato de analizar en este blog: empresa abierta, organizaciones horizontales, redes distribuidas, estrategia frente a planificación, bottom-up vs. top-down …
He explorado ya este tema, aunque sea solo mínimamente y para abordar otras cuestiones en Reinventando los MBA en la era digital: Master in the Business of Attention, El diseño como meta-disciplina y Diseño, estrategia y "pensamiento de diseño" en dos videos. Para volver a empezar, nada mejor que algunas definiciones, todas ellas interesantes y todas ellas diferentes, procedentes de una selección totalmente personal (en posteriores posts comentaré algunos recursos básicos sobre el tema):
1. Victor Lombardi. What is design thinking? (ya comentado por Ramón Sangüesa) utiliza toda una serie de definiciones y aproximaciones dadas por divesos líderes en este campo para identificar el pensamiento de diseño como la aplicación de los métodos y las estrategias para el diseño de lo tangible, de productos, a procesos intangibles (siguiendo el concepto de ciencias de lo artificial de Herbert Simon; recomendable leer sobre este tema a Ramón Sangüesa). Este modelo contaría con estas características básicas:
- Collaborative, especially with others having different and complimentary experience, to generate better work and form agreement
- Abductive, inventing new options to find new and better solutions to new problems
- Experimental, building prototypes and posing hypotheses, testing them, and iterating this activity to find what works and what doesn’t work to manage risk
- Personal, considering the unique context of each problem and the people involved
- Integrative, perceiving an entire system and its linkages
- Interpretive, devising how to frame the problem and judge the possible solutions
2. John Kolko en Core77. Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire: Life lessons from consulting to academia, and back again, llega a una definición semejante partiendo del problema de la educación:
When I started teaching, I had little over three years of professional design experience under my belt. My lack of experience hardly justified "knowing the answers," and so I approached Design education as a collaborative learning process. I treated the creation of the courses and the assignments as interaction design problems, and I solved them by using the design process—iterative, user-centered, and collaborative, evolving over time. I failed a great deal in the early stages of teaching, but I failed publicly and collaboratively: my early classes were simply prototypes, and I gathered as much qualitative and quantitative feedback on these prototypes as I could in order to refine the course material over four or five years. The biggest failure was particularly unfortunate for the students: I greatly over-estimated how much work could be accomplished in a ten week quarter, and I suppose my classes gained a reputation for being a bit overzealous and akin to boot camp.
3. Entrevista a Hilary Cottan (Participle, más en Design Museum) en el sitio de Torino 2008 World Design Capital (de esta serie de entrevistas hablaremos más en un próximo post). Identifica dos características básicas para el diseño (que aplica a cuestiones tan heterodoxas como los servicios sociales):
- Lenguaje visual que elimina las jerarquías por las diferencias en el dominio de las herramintas tradicionales y/o el acceso a la información
- Prototipado en tiempo real
My history with design as an aspect of strategy comes from resisting the conventional view. If you go to a business school, you’ll hear phrases like, "Strategy is the irrevocable commitment of scarce resources." Sounds kind of scary, although I guess if you’re Eisenhower, it’s fairly relevant. Then you learn that strategy is a "growth-share matrix", which gets aggregated into portfolios of "stars" and "dogs". You basically get a very analytical perspective on what strategy should be. If you went to business school in the ’70s, that was the dogma.
But my perspective is that what we call strategy at a given point in history is not just a more brilliant analysis than was ever done before of how to run a business; it’s based on what’s important at that moment in the economy. In the mid-70s, with an economy basically dominated by oligopolies — three car companies, three major consumer products companies (Unilever, P&G and Colgate), Kraft vs. Nestle, Coke vs. Pepsi – slugging it out, it’s no wonder you had a view of strategy that’s just about market share.
Then later we got computers, and the "Bain view" of strategy, where finer and finer cuts at the data, "profitability analyses", became the norm. The idea was that you shouldn’t subsidize less-profitable activities with more-profitable ones – we should be honing away everything that isn’t "great". You got a very reductionist perspective.
So my history with design and strategy is a history of resisting those narrow "pronunciamenti" on what strategy is. Because if that was really all strategy is, computers could do it! So why is it that our view of strategy still can keep changing? Why do we still admire people who invent winning strategies?
My other perspective is, I’ve always been interested in seeing technology change what’s possible, and how the economy reorganizes around that. The last 20 years have been a kind of orgy of this.
I didn’t know anything about design, but came to discover it, not least through interaction with the Institute of Design, but also through a radically different perspective: from complexity theory.
Strategy as I learned it in business school was very much like engineering: making incremental improvements in what already exists. Well, if nothing’s changing, probabilities favor that kind of strategy. But in a rapidly changing environment, it’s not very good because your innovations won’t fall very far from the tree.
So, we need what [complexity theorist] Stuart Kauffman would call "non-linear searches of high-dimensional solution spaces", or what designers would call "a charrette". The idea is that if you have a problem, and if you challenge a diverse group of people with different perspectives to solve it, then you will find solutions that are very far apart in this "high-dimensional solution space" – you don’t even know how to talk about them using the same framework. Then you go through essentially a biological process of recombination of all these different features, to get to a solution you like.