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The triumph of design (thinking)


Over at Public Seminar, Benjamin Evans examines the ascendance of “design thinking,” which began as an approach to designing fancy consumer products, but is now becoming an approach to designing entire corporate structures and social systems. Check out an excerpt below, or the entire article here.

Design has come to play a central role in the viability of almost all consumer products, but perhaps less familiar with the way in which “design” has also recently become identified with an entire system of thinking and approaching problems. Design is no longer merely a necessary department in a corporate structure (a partner to “marketing” and “human resources”), but instead is rapidly playing an increasingly central role in management practices. So what is design thinking, and how might we respond to its uptake by corporate culture?..

The ongoing recognition by commercial interests of the value of design (and its mode of thinking) is further recognition of the idea that value is to be ultimately equated with utility. Imagination, creativity, and playfulness are no longer valuable in and of themselves, but rather considered valuable because they can streamline, enhance, and possibly monetize our systems of living. I am reminded of newspaper articles that appear from time to time explaining how students of philosophy or the humanities in general always score the highest in business exams and are generally in great demand by wise headhunters in the business sector (for a recent example, see Gerry Turcotte in the Calgary Herald). But the fact remains that most people who get seriously into something such as philosophy do so not because it might get them a good job in the oil industry, but because they see it as intrinsically valuable and rewarding.

Image via Public Seminar