Design Thinking
Design Thinking

Design Thinking


Nigel Cross

Full Title

Design Thinking

Last Highlighted
May 31, 2015 11:56 PM (CDT)
Last Synced
June 8, 2023 1:13 PM (CDT)

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The main conclusion that Bucciarelli stressed is how even engineering design, traditionally seen as a strictly technical process, is in reality a social process of interaction and negotiation between the different participants who each bring to bear their own ‘object world’ – their own specific knowledge and awareness of aspects of the object being designed. His thesis is that ‘the process of designing is a process of achieving consensus among participants with different “interests” in the design, and that those different interests are not reconcilable in object-world terms … The process is necessarily social and requires the participants to negotiate their differences and construct meaning through direct, and preferably face-to-face, exchange.’

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Rowe noticed in all three studies that the architects’ attention switched regularly between solution concepts and problem exploration

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He characterised the progress of the design activity as ‘episodic’, or as a kind of ‘series of related skirmishes with various aspects of the problem at hand’.

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According to Peirce, ‘Deduction proves that something must be; induction shows that something actually is operative; abduction suggests that something may be.’ It is this hypothesising of what may be, the act of producing proposals or conjectures, that is central to designing.

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Unlike conventional logic, a design solution cannot be derived directly from the problem, but can only be matched to it. Unlike the scientist, who searches for many cases to substantiate a rule, and then one case to falsify it, the designer can be gratified in being able to produce just one satisfactory case that gives an appropriate result.

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With every team working within the same constraints, only innovation, coupled with constant refinement and improvement, can provide the competitive edge.

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‘It comes from the environment and the situation you’re in; you’re governed by these regulations; you’re in this sort of a war situation, you’ve got a battle every two weeks; and you’re desperate to try and think of things all the time – alongside all the normal design [improvement] processes which are more laborious …

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The illuminations came, again in classical form, after long periods of preoccupation with the problem, and after what Gordon Murray emphasises as the most important factor in innovative design, of reconsidering the problem situation from first principles; he stresses the need to ‘keep looking back at fundamental physical principles’.

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Another crucial factor is the motivation to carry the bright idea through into detailed implementation.

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‘So I rushed around and looked at the technology of micro-filters, mainly in the medical industry … they were using these organic micro-filters which let the fluid through themselves but very, very, very, slowly. And we built the world’s tiniest throttle valve with one of these filters in it, and a tiny little pin – we were using drills that you couldn’t even see!

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For Gordon Murray, the innovation of introducing planned pit stops was part of an overall strategy arising from taking his thinking back to a basic issue – how to make the car lighter. The lighter the car, the faster it is in accelerating and decelerating.

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For all of the objective, measurable factors, fine calculations were made, leading to the conclusion that a pit stop had to lose less than twenty-six seconds racing time to be worthwhile.

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At that time, a quick pit stop for tyre changes took about fifteen seconds of actual stopped time. Gordon Murray calculated that he had to get this down to about ten seconds and to reduce as much as possible the slowing-down and warming-up times. And so, ‘the innovation process continues, because you’ve got all these new things that nobody’s done before that you have to come up with’.

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This work involved taking apart, usually by personal trial and error, various artillery mechanisms, and then making drawings to illustrate the parts and their assembly.

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His designs often arise from a fundamental reassessment of the purpose, function and use of the product.

Note: How might we reassess the purpose of school.

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as a design aid.

Note: draw the challenge you are facing.

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failure. The innovative designer is prepared to fail (occasionally), but is not afraid of failure, and of course seeks fanatically to avoid failure.

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it is not a matter of recognising a pre-existing pattern in the data, but of creating a pattern that re-formulates the problem and suggests directions towards a solution.

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The best cognitive aid for supporting and maintaining parallel design thinking is drawing.

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Three key strategic aspects of design thinking appear to be common across all these studies: (1) taking a broad ‘systems approach’ to the problem, rather than accepting narrow problem criteria; (2) ‘framing’ the problem in a distinctive and sometimes rather personal way; and (3) designing from ‘first principles’.

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‘The innovator has a systems mind, one that sees things in terms of how they relate to each other in producing a result, a new gestalt that to some degree changes the world.’

Note: this is unbundling for 4.0 - linked in indesign map. creativity is making connections. inn dan - associations good ideas - adjacent possible

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the designers appear to explore the problem from a particular perspective, in order to formulate or frame the problem in a way that stimulates and pre-structures the emergence of design concepts.

Note: yes AND - you have to make a decision about the perspective you have on the problem

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these designers either explicitly or implicitly rely upon ‘first principles’ in both the origination of their concepts and in the detailed development of those concepts. For example, Gordon Murray stresses the need to ‘keep looking at fundamental physical principles’ for innovative design, and in his design to regain ground effect he focused on the physical forces that act on a car at speed.

Note: what are the fundamental principles you are dealing with?

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Creativity is often stimulated when there is a conflict to resolve, and it may be that these successful designers recognise this and seek the stimulus of conflict. Such conflict is particularly evident in Gordon Murray’s design strategy in Formula One, which was to challenge and, if necessary, somehow to circumvent the criteria set by the technical regulations.

Note: well then, we should kick ass given the regs in education, right?

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At the lowest level is explicit, established knowledge of first principles, which may be domain specific or more general scientific knowledge. At the intermediate level is where the designer’s strategic knowledge is especially exercised, and where that knowledge is more variable, situated in the particular problem and its context, tacit and perhaps personalised and idiosyncratic. At the higher level there is a mix of relatively stable, but usually implicit goals held by the designer, the temporary problem goals, and fixed, explicit solution criteria specified by the client or other domain authority.

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4.1 A model of the design strategy followed by creative designers.

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Protocol analysis relies on the verbal accounts given by subjects of their own cognitive activities. One of the most direct ways in which we can try to know what is going on inside people’s heads, is by asking them to tell us what they are thinking.

Note: the dvd with directors commentary - share what you are thinking.

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Victor’s understanding of the dynamic situation therefore enabled him to formulate a broad view of the design task.

Note: connect to storyboarding

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Victor had derived a framing of the problem which directed him to design a stiff, rigid carrier, mounted as low as possible over the rear wheel.

Note: the problem statement comes first and is made clear in the proposed solution (stability, low cog, tough)

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His knowledge of structural design principles led him to avoid designing a rectangular, parallelogram structure, which was the form that rather naturally seemed to arise from considering the basic shape of the carrier and the location of its supporting structure on the bicycle.

Note: back to why Rick’s books are important - you need to understand structural constraints

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I: ‘Ivan’, J: ‘John’ and K: ‘Kerry’). We do know that they all worked for the same design consultancy firm, had approximately equal previous design experience, and had similar job roles within their firm.

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The errors and misunderstandings suggest that the team did not have a very effective strategy for gathering and sharing information. The fact that this was a short, experimental design session, and that there was relevant personal knowledge available within the team probably significantly affected the team’s strategy. However, the reliance on personal knowledge, rather than public and more formalised knowledge sources, could again create misunderstanding. Even when information is apparently shared, misinterpretations and misunderstandings are evident, which means that common, shared understanding cannot always be assumed in team work.

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Interestingly, when John introduced the concept, at one hour and twenty minutes into the session, it was the first instance of the use of the word ‘tray’, and from then on ‘tray’ was repeatedly used as the defining concept for the team’s design proposal. The word ‘tray’ subsequently occurred 35 times in the last 40 minutes of the session, thus emphasising the key role that it played in defining the product design

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A successful team’s discussion showed more ‘coherent’ development, in which the team members built upon each other’s contributions, progressing in a coherent form of conversation. The evidence for this lay in measuring how closely team members’ contributions to the discussion followed on from previous contributions, rather than diverging from them.

Note: Flare vs Focus. Yes AND

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Joachim Günther and colleagues analysed the individual statements in the protocols into three types, concerned with (1) clarifying the task, (2) searching for concepts, and (3) fixing the concept.

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The graph in Figure 7.1 shows clearly that ‘searching for concepts’ dominated most of the team’s process, but came to a fairly quick stop soon after they identified the ‘tray’ concept, at around 80 minutes. Overall, they followed the activities that they had set out in their model process, but not in a strict sequence of separate activities. 7.1 Principal phases of the team’s design process.

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A concern with user issues was more evident in Victor’s process than it was in that of the team.

Note: Maybe being alone makes you less likely to jockey with team to promote personal experience?

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In fact, much of his design activity was similar to that of the team, in that he made progress by proposing a partial solution concept and then analysing its strengths and weaknesses. 7.2 Principal phases of Victor Scheinman’s design

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Organising a design process is quite a difficult task, because there has to be allowance for free-flowing activity within an overall schedule of things to be done within a time limit. The team’s design process seemed quite complex; it was free-flowing, but it was also quite controlled.

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A ‘no-rack’ concept clearly does not fit anywhere within the team’s problem decomposition. Although the team went on to consider some more ideas for such a ‘no-rack’ concept, eventually it was lost as they returned to their more orderly sequence of planned activities. This loss of a potentially radical, creative solution was precisely due to the team creating, and sticking to, a specific structuring of the problem.

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One of the most unusual metaphors was that used by Herbert Simon, when he likened the activity of a designer to that of an ant. Simon compared any creative problem solver, such as a designer, to an ant returning to its nest across a stony terrain. At any given moment, the ant’s own horizon is very close, and all it can see are the rocks around it. To the ant, the terrain is not all visible in advance, and it cannot foresee all the obstacles lying in its path on its way to its goal. All it can do is deal with the obstacles as it comes to them

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In design there is not an already-known goal; the designer creates the goal in creating a solution concept. If there is an already-known goal, then problem solving is a matter of searching for that goal, as Jones and Simon suggest. But searching for something that is lost is not what designers do. They do not search for a lost city or a buried treasure. Rather, they construct a fantasy city or magical treasure of their own. In a sense, they are genuine explorers, mapping unknown territories and returning with fascinating finds, rather than the searchers after certainties that both Jones and Simon describe.

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In fact, it seems possible to make a reasonable claim that design ability is a form of natural intelligence, of the kind that the psychologist Howard Gardner identified.

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It seems reasonable, therefore, to try to separate out design ability as a form of intelligence in its own right.

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not perform the relatively simple design task. 8.3 The pattern of design activities as recorded in the

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In studies of problem solving, novice behaviour is usually associated with a ‘depth-first’ approach, which means that the novice identifies a problem aspect and immediately begins exploring its solution in depth. This results in partial sub-solutions that may be difficult to reconcile together into a satisfactory overall solution. The strategies of experts, however, are usually regarded as exhibiting predominantly breadth-first approaches – i.e., starting with a broad problem exploration and developing related sub-solutions together in parallel. Differences of this nature were found between the behaviour of novice and experienced designers by Saeema Ahmed and her colleagues. They found clear differences between the behaviours of new (graduate) entrants to the engineering profession and much more experienced engineers. The novices used ‘trial and error’ techniques of generating and implementing a design modification, evaluating it, then generating another, and so on through many iterations. Experienced engineers were observed to make a preliminary evaluation of their tentative decisions before implementing them and making a final evaluation.

Note: This is what we see in most of your first cuts - depth first. we want to teach breadth first habits.

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problem-solving strategy used by expert designers seems to be different from that employed by other kinds of problem-solvers, who usually attempt to define or understand the problem fully before making solution attempts. In common with what we saw of expert designer behaviour in our earlier protocol studies, many studies of expert design behaviour suggest that designers move rapidly to early solution conjectures, and use these conjectures as a way of exploring and defining problem-and-solution together.

Note: Is this evidence of highly developed adductive reasoning? connection - adjacent possible ? abduction example: nurses holmes - abduction