Is there a trade off between choosing design and design thinking?

Quoting a recent email exchange with Christina Wodtke to start off what feels to be an excellent opportunity for me to circumlocute to my heart’s content.

Is it the struggle between the "left brain of the designer" vs "the right brain of the designer" that Christina talks about when she says,

"I’m personally torn between wanting to keep what’s good about design thinking and what’s crap about designer thinking."

What if this was the theme and topic – can you already imagine the hours of emphatic conversations, arguments and debates as we decide what are the good points worth keeping and what’s crap ?

Maybe this is the hurdle that wasn’t noticed in "designers as leaders" maybe the struggle to move the primacy of thinking from the fuzzy, good at sketching, design sensitivity heightened side to the analytical, roi oriented, pattern recognizing strategic side?

nibby once said that if he spent too many hours just designing, it took him some time to get his razer sharp analytical side back – is this then a trade off that those who’ve practiced as designers must make in order to move up the food chain into shaping [designing] larger scale strategies than just the product line for one platform?

to which she replied,

Actually, I’m reading Financial Intelligence (awesome book btw) and realizing one of the great lies told designers is business thinking takes place in the left part of the brain.  It’s clear much finance is an art, is abductive, does require vision and leaps of radical creativity. Just as kerning, bless those crazy typographers, has got to be as dull (or exciting) as any accountant working on quarterly reports.

Left and right is a giant frigging LIE.  And one that keeps designers, like that damn barbie, saying "Math is hard."

Now I promised I’d reply in the blog, so here goes –

Yes, I agree with you completely, and here’s what I’ve seen and heard. My broker is the best there is, its as simple as that [yes, you Zippy doo, I know you read me, dude ;p] and in a conversation on the skill of pattern recognition and the complementary ability to identify opportunity spaces for revenue generation, he said to me that picking stocks, as an investment manager, was but another manifestation of the same art. It is indeed pattern recognition, browsing the news and financial sites, allowing your subconscious and intuition to work their magic back in your hind brain as you feed your face with vast amounts of surfing, browsing, wallowing and searching data online.

The names/brands/stocks/companies/whatever that is the crux of the problem simmering at the back of your brain "tags" or "flags" stories, information, news about it very rapidly in your brain as you scan pages of information.

Often times you formulate strategies or predict a foreseeable scenario by following the pattern of a trend to its logical conclusion – these are all but other ways to design something, to manifest the visual you see in your mind’s eye.

Even strategies – particularly medium term and long term ones – what the Asian firms call the "long view" must emerge wholly as a complete picture in your mind, one where you can see all the probabilities in the ever expanding branches of the decision tree. Eric Francis once said,

" … the further away from an event that we begin to see and consider the
possibilities, the more choices we have, and the more we can influence
the outcome. The closer we get, the more the outcome seems to be
inevitable or fated in some way. This can include seeing the decisions
we need to make in advance and giving ourselves as many options as
possible — till the time comes to reduce the options."

Could this not be mapped on to the NPV analysis of a new product development process?

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One Response to Is there a trade off between choosing design and design thinking?

  1. Left/Right; Up/Down; Designed/Formulaic

    The other day, Niti Bhan wrote about design thinking in a left brain/right brain context. In her piece Niti quotes Christina Wodtke on the issue: Actually, I’m reading Financial Intelligence (awesome book btw) and realizing one of the great lies

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