What is the Foundation of Design Thinking?

It’s the willing and even enthusiastic acceptance of competing constraints.

The first stage of the design process is often about discovering which constraints are important and establishing a framework for evaluating them. Constraints can best be visualized in terms of three overlapping criteria for successful ideas:

  • Feasibility – what is functionally possible within the foreseeable future
  • Viability – what is likely to become part of a sustainable business model
  • Desirability – what makes sense to people and for people

A competent designer will resolve each of these three constraints, but a design thinker will bring them into a harmonious balance.

This pursuit of peaceful coexistence does not imply that all constraints are created equal; a given project may be disproportionately by technology, budget, or a mix of human factors. Different types of organizations may push one or another of them to the forefront. Nor is it a simple linear process. Design teams will cycle back through all three considerations throughout the life of a project, but the emphasis is on fundamental human needs – as distinct from fleeting or artificially manipulated desires.

That’s what drives design thinking to depart from the status quo.

Questions for ChurchWorld leaders:

  1. What are the constraints facing you today?
  2. Can you classify them into the 3 categories listed above?
  3. How will you balance them?

inspired by and adapted from Change by Design, by Tim Brown

Change by Design

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