Design thinking has become synonymous with the application of design methods into corporate environments, especially via the use of simplistic methods involving sticky notes and often misunderstood, or barely researched, design practices.

I was taking in Natasha Jen’s views on design thinking, in particular her talk at Adobe’s 99U conference, with some amusement. She’s a good speaker and I tend to agree with much of what she says, especially with regard to the somewhat overblown importance given in some quarters to the many uninformed practices which come under the banner of ‘Design Thinking’. In particular, Jen’s humorous identification of the use of yellow sticky notes for every single situation is very accurate.

Jen does have some serious points and, in particular, calls for practitioners of design thinking to ‘evidence’ their practices, in much the same way as she describes designers critiquing their work.

My own view, for some time, is that many of the practical applications of design thinking have been lazily put together within industry. Many of those practicing ‘design thinking’ are not designers – not a problem in isolation perhaps. But it becomes problematic when non-designers (or even designers for that matter) simplistically appropriate selective and often misunderstood design concepts for application within non-design professions, without having done adequate research and without having an understanding of how designers actually work.