Design Thinking vs. Design Doing

By: Amanda Caparelli

Design thinking provides an effective approach to examining where problems exist within an organization for the customer or the employee, and approaches that can be taken to land on a solution. But how do you get from Point A to B? How might a designer utilize that information and somehow convert it into an innovative and meaningful solution? This is where design doing comes into play. It’s one thing to build the seemingly perfect method to solve any given problem; but actually implementing that idea, testing what works, and adjusting accordingly is integral to delivering the most suitable solution. Understanding design thinking as an ongoing process of engaging, hands-on collaborative experiences, and not as a uniform process, is the most effective way to approach an outcome. The greatest Aha! moments within the design process are oftentimes found where a team is able to interpret all pertinent observations and feedback, and then challenge or fine-tune any points of concern within the process. In two words: constantly reiterating! Actively challenging and exploiting a new idea is the only way to improve upon it and generate an innovative solution. Design thinking, in conjunction with design doing, is a reiteration of continuously involving cross-functional teams working together to challenge and disrupt assumed solutions.

Finding a balance between how much research and analysis is needed before applying that knowledge to design an innovative solution is often a point of confusion within design thinking. The biggest takeaway is that there is no simple fix. The process is messy and unclear, particularly for companies inexperienced in the world of design thinking. However, it is important to note that diving into the ‘doing’ aspect of design thinking oftentimes involves entire cultural transformations and cross-functional collaboration to succeed. It’s not just about getting designers within the organization to work together as a team, but truly inspiring and applying the design thinking methodology across the board to achieve a more holistic buy-in. With that said, it is essential to remember that design thinking, design doing, and design culture are all interrelated and must coexist to reach a point of success.