Beyond Post-Its: Unraveling the Myths of Design Thinking

August 12, 2023
2 min read

One common critique of design thinking is that it dilutes design into a structured, linear, and clean process. Critics argue that real design is messy, complex, and nonlinear, and it cannot be derived solely from a stack of Post-It notes and a few brainstorming sessions. They believe that design thinking oversimplifies the design process and fails to capture the true essence of design.

Another criticism is that design thinking is fundamentally conservative and preserves the status quo. Critics argue that design thinking privileges the designer above the people they serve, limiting participation in the design process. They believe that design thinking can reinforce existing power structures and fail to address systemic issues.

Some critics argue that design thinking has a short-term focus on novel and naive ideas, resulting in unrealistic and ungrounded recommendations. They believe that design thinking can lead to impractical solutions that are not feasible or sustainable in the long run.

Furthermore, it is argued that design thinking can be overly focused on the process itself, leading to a rigid system that fails to produce truly innovative ideas. Critics contend that organizations may become too fixated on following the steps of design thinking without truly understanding the underlying principles and mindset required for successful innovation.

It is important to note that design thinking criticism is not meant to dismiss the value of design thinking entirely. Instead, it aims to highlight the limitations and challenges associated with its application. Design thinking can be a valuable tool for problem-solving and innovation when used appropriately and in conjunction with other design methodologies.

Here are some references for further reading on the critique of design thinking:

  1. "Exploring the Reasons for Design Thinking Criticism" Toptal
  2. "Design Thinking Is Fundamentally Conservative and Preserves the Status Quo” Harvard Business Review
  3. "Design thinking was supposed to fix the world. Where did it go wrong?" MIT Technology Review
  4. "A critical review of design thinking” Niklaus Gerber on Medium
  5. "Critique of Design Thinking in Organizations: Strongholds and Shortcomings of the Making Paradigm" ScienceDirect

Please note that the views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and may not represent a consensus on the topic.

SCTY is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) incubator, advisory and consultancy based in NYC. Founded by Ali Madad, SCTY engages in works for culture, commerce and public policy.

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