On Jan. 7, the #dtk12chat was:

Defining & Re-Defining Design Thinking K12 New to DT?  Develop your understanding or the basics.  Experienced with DT?  How might our experiences with DT K12 reshape our definition of design thinking?

The A-Mazing Mods,  Dan Ryder (@wickeddecent), Bryan Lakatos (@BryanLakatos), Chris Andres (@ChrisAndres003) threw out some fun questions that were timely and important to revisit, especially for me in my daily practice of design thinking.  Right out the gate the question was asked, “What do you think of when you see the word design?”  In a twitter reply, Josie Holford responded with the following tweet:

  Her response has stuck with me over the last couple of weeks as well as a few more tweets from this lively #dtk12chat (you will see below).  The phrase “getting from where we are now to where we want to be,” is saying something to me I have yet to nail down but I know it has gotten me thinking about how I articulate what DEEP design thinking is to others. My definition for what design thinking is has evolved through practice and my interactions with Users.   My sharing of what I thought design thinking was is in the following image (it was how I explained it to other people):


I really like this version… It gives a primer understanding with strong visuals. I like how it paints a picture of action as well as focuses in on the action of “empathizing”.  However, as time progressed, the public definition became more succinct for a variety of reasons. Again, great way to convey the heart of design thinking. Yet, just saying “it’s about being people-centered” or “better people-centered problem solving” has never been enough.  DEEP design thinking is so much more.  We live in a sound bite, tag line, elevator pitch, 140 character world but the “it’s about being people-centered” just seems incomplete. People are left hanging, scratching their heads, longing for more understanding. I tend to follow up with something about there are all ways to solve problems. Technically, we just solve them. However, the difference I guess for how we solve them is the lens or approach we apply to the problem but also the moment.  As a design thinker, the lens is people-centered focused.  Yet, design thinking is far from just solving problems.  For one to solve problems means the problem had to somehow be uncovered, revealed, presented to be solved. How does one find a problem to be solved?  What if the User isn’t saying, “I have a problem that needs solving?” What if there isn’t a bottle neck in the lunchroom line day in and day out that is screaming for attention? What if people are not seeking opportunities for change or able to see the cracks in experiences?  (hold onto these questions)

During the chat we were asked, “Define what design thinking is in 140 characters or fewer.” I took a stab at it:

Again, I still feel its incomplete.  Also, I do need to keep in mind that depending on my audience this 140 characters or less might  just be enough, but do I want different definitions for different audiences?  The tweets below from Tom Barrett and Jim Tiffin were an exchange on the definition of design thinking in 140 characters or less as well:

 The more I practice (keyword “practice”) design thinking, the more my lens becomes concave. I like the visual of concave because to be that shows that I am receiving more vs projecting or staying surface like a convex lens.  So, Yes And to the above of what Josie, Tom, and Jim all shared about design thinking.

The other day, my nephew was attempting to catch a tennis ball.  As I was watching him routinely drop the ball, I zeroed in on his hands.   His hands were flat and every time the ball hit his hands it bounced off.  He was catching the ball with hard hands. When you catch a ball you need to have soft hands… Hard hands are not ready to receive the ball.  Soft hands on the other hand are concave which gives the receiver enough time to react/respond…

Recalling those questions I asked you to hold on to from above, let’s see if I can take another stab at it…

DEEP design thinking is an approach to seeing what’s not there YET, imagining how to create it, and feeling for understanding so as to be open to possibilities. It’s having a desire to seek to understand, create to give, and keep the focus on others so as to find moments of empathy to be in a better position to learn, live, and do. It’s being present.

Well, it is surely not a soundbite… but not sure it’s enough yet… (WIP)