What Design Thinkers can learn from Einstein?

It is said that Design Thinking is about learning to think about a problem like Designers, where we 'think by doing'. That appears to be the creative way.

But what about learning to think like scientists to solve 'wicked' and 'messy' problems? To me it is just the same way any designer would go about solving problems. There is absolutely no difference. The difference exists only in our minds, which is then a myth.

Here are some of the ways Einstein went about seeing and solving tough, complicated and wicked problem — far tougher than the problems we see in everyday organizational life.

I have arranged Einstein's quotations just the way the best of Design Thinkers think. And I see no difference, absolutely no difference in the way any good scientist or any good designer thinks. Try to find the difference between the two apparently opposed approaches to solving problems.

1. Be Curious

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious"

Note; Da Vinci's first commandment to thinking differently was just the same — 'Curiosity'.

2. Approach from different Perspectives and Levels

"One can't solve a problem from the same level it was created"

"Insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

"It is not that I'm so smart; it's just that I stay with problems longer."

3. Rooted in the NOW

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough"

"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves"

4. Create the Future through Imagination: Not through analysis of the Past

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of Life's coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge."

5. Learning by Doing, Prototyping, Mistakes

"Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience (direct)."

"A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new."

6. Aim at Excellence: Not Success

"Strive not to be a success but rather be excellent"

"Learn rules of the game. And then play better than anyone else."

Isn't it time that we do away with the myth that scientist and designers think differently? What happens when we do so? The term 'Design' becomes irrelevant. Only 'Thinking' remains as the important thing. Or is it? Or is 'Imagination' and 'Intuition', validated through prototyping and experimentation (either physically or in the mind) more important than thinking?

I think it is 'Imagination' and 'Intuition' that we are aiming at. The process of Scientists, Designers and Engineers have the same 'starting', 'middle' and 'end' points when confronted with a problem. They start with 'Deep Contemplation' and then go through the mind by experimenting, prototyping and improvising and then end by going beyond the mind by 'imagination' and 'intuition' to come up with really new solutions.

If this is so, why then must we make a distinction between Humanities and Science? Make a distinction between Designers and Engineers? It is meaningless.

Aren't their approaches to solving problems fundamentally the same?

So why can't we simply say that Design Thinking is an approach to solve 'wicked' and 'messy' problems through 'imagination' and 'intuition'.

I see no reason as to what stops us from saying so.



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