I am right now writing on an assignment for my Master degree in mechanical engineering. Partly my assignment shall discuss if there are limits of applying Design Thinking or is this approach working on each type of product/project?
Please share your opinions or experiences.
Hi Martin, no – Design Thinking is no silver bullet for all types of projects (as you know – there are no silver bullets out there anyway :)). So Design Thinking is a good way to reduce the risk of failure (meaning – to deliver something that is not of value) in high-risk projects. These are projects that are characterized by a high level of uncertainty. But the basic principles of Design THinking can be applied to nearly all projects (focusing on the end-user; prototyping and iteration; experimentation and early failure). My 2 cent :).
@Christian: Thank you for your fast reply!
That makes sense to use DT mostly in projects with a high level of uncertainty. In my mind the stacey matrix is the best way to visualize this relation.
But what about, let’s say, in machinery manufacturing? Sure, the way Design Thinking makes you think can help to find good solutions which fit to user needs, but in the end a group of people need to design the machinery in detail. So does it make sense to use DT in such projects?
Absolutetely – DT makes sense there as well. If you design a machine – it is not about the technology side right from the beginning. It is about how this machine can add value to the people that operate the machine or the people that use the resulting products. After understanding why you need this machine and what the machine should do, you start with the how … how can the machine provide this using technology (I think this is what you refered to as “design the machinery in detail). In my opinion, this is not much different to software design. The worst case would be that you build a machine that does the wrong things – even though the machine is engineered in a perfect manner 🙂
I can imagine and in one project I experienced it by myself, the how, which should seduce the why and what, might be limited by technology and budget limits. Then in the end there is the risk of half-userfriendly products caused by theses limits.
And further it is not quite easy to build prototypes for testing with users in machinery building than it is in software development.
What do you think on that?
You have way more experience than me in building machines – mine is 0 (zero) 🙂 But I think all of us have experienced that the feasibility side limits the imagination of the product teams. But if you tackle the right problem and you have data to proove it – than you have a good basis to discuss with the engineers how to stretch the boundarise of feasibility today. If you are only working in the boundaries of what is possible today – I wouldn`t call it innovation. Than you spoke about “half-userfriendly” … this is for me more going into the usability aspect. This you have to tackle with usability tests (which is nothing else than iterations on prototypes that check the usability). In addition you ´might want to have prototypes that test the feasibility. There you said, it is harder to do in machinery. There I cannot judge at all.
That all sounds reasonable. Thank you very much Christian!
Another question: As I wrote in the first post I want to discuss these limits (or no limits) of Design Thinking in my assignment. Would you be available for a short interview (30-45min) about that topic or/and would you agree when I use your written text in my assignment (if you want anonymous)?
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