Design thinking has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion over the past decade. It was featured in the September, 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review with several articles on the subject. Design is no longer just for physical objects, e.g. cars, bridges, shoes, jewelry, smartphones. Design thinking is now being applied to abstract entities, - e.g. systems, services, information and organizations, - as well as to devise strategies, manage change and solve complex problems.
The application of design thinking beyond products isn’t new. Nobel laureate Herbert Simon discussed the concept in his 1969 classic The Sciences of the Artificial. IDEO, a firm best known for pioneering this expanded view of design, traces its roots back to 1978. The School of Design in London’s Royal College of Art has long been expanding the boundaries of industrial design. Stanford’s Institute of Design, - better known as the d.school, - was launched in 2004 as a graduate program that integrates business, the social sciences, the humanities and other disciplines into more traditional engineering and product design.
The d.school’s website nicely explains its design-thinking point of view: “Students and faculty in engineering, medicine, business, law, the humanities, sciences, and education find their way here to take on the world’s messy problems together. Human values are at the heart of our collaborative approach… Along the way, our students develop a process for producing creative solutions to even the most complex challenges they tackle… Our deliberate mash-up of industry, academia and the big world beyond campus is a key to our continuing evolution.”