Design Thinking VS Problem Solving

A Chinese graphic designer is looking for skills upgrade from western experts

Chinese kid: “Mr. Horst, the world is fucked, I am doing design research solving the wicked problem in China, I want to upgrade my skills, so let’s start over, we need a plan.”

Horst: “No, no, no, It’s not possible to design ‘ solutions’ to a certain class of problems that routinely face planners. Wicked problems have criteria pluralism of values, creates and challenges.”

Chinese kid: “ah, so no plan?”

Herb: “Horst, I think the design is a method for dealing with ill-structured problems and involves building models that reflect constraints and an evolving understanding of the problem space which changes with new knowledge and is based on long-term memory.”

Chinese kid: “Hmm, sounds interesting to me.”

Edward de Bono: “Hey! kid, give me $50, I can help you to upgrade skills, I can teach you how to be creative because creativity can be designed through the process of thinking.”

Chinese kid: “Yahh, that would be great, let’s do it, I never thought creativity can be designed, because, in China, the education system sucks, it kills creativity.”

Richard Buchanan: “Kid, You also need to build up some design abilities, such as tolerate uncertainty, working with incomplete information, use drawings and other modeling media as means of problems solving.”

Chinese kid: “hmm, that sounds a lot to develop, but I don’t find the motivation to learn those abilities, and facing ambiguity? No way, that’s hard.”

Jocelyn Wyatt: “Ha… I understand, what Richard described is what we call” design thinking”. Traditionally, designers have focused on improving features of products and overlooking the true needs of people, so design thinking is the human-centered method that can help to solve wicked problem globally, the places where people live and think differently.”

Chinese kid: “Okay, but I still don‘t know what is the meaning of design thinking?”

Richard Buchanan: “well, design thinking is an integrative practice- the liberal art of technological culture. Design problems are wicked because the design has no special subject beyond what designers conceive it to be. The design is universal in scope because it can be applied to any area of human experience but designers create particulars out of specific circumstances. Design (Plans) are an argument.”

Chris Pacinoe: “Actually, design thinking is not new but a reemergence of thought from Alexander back in the 1960s. Especially, In this information age, everyone can adopt such a method.”

Chinese kid: “Really? Design thinking sounds very powerful, but how can I work with Chinese colleagues who don’t have those abilities back to China? It feels like designers are still necessary, but western design thinking is not enough.”