Design is the Spirit of Things

Image by Start-Up@Singapore.
A few weekends ago, I gave seminar on Design Thinking to a number of entrepreneurs at the Start-up@Singapore competition. It was to help them acquire the skills as well as prepare their Start-up pitches for the next round of funding.
During the Q&A session after the seminar, one of the participants asked: “so Design Thinking basically creates the “Spirit” behind our products and services?”
Spot on.
What a great analogy. I was concerned leading up to the seminar of what I could share in an hour that would not confuse them. This was because they would be familiar with Start-Up staples like Lean Methodology, Kaizen, and Market research etc. Much of these methods focus on learning and extracting data from consumers and optimizing and/or improving their offerings. Very much like the core methodology of Design Thinking. They are two-sides of the same coin, so to speak.
So I focused on the Experience Design aspect of Design Thinking, and I guess some of what I shared stuck.
But what is this “Spirit”, and what does it mean? I know this is becoming a fluffy discussion, especially when Designers are now moving into the company boardroom and need to be more tangible. So let me summarize what this “Spirit” that design creates: Meaning.
Design creates the Spirit that gives meaning to all our products, services and processes.
Often when you optimize a product, service or process, it gets a lot quicker, works better, faster, cheaper etc. What happens is people just end up liking it rather than loving it. For example, I like taking a train to work because it gets me to my destination fast and cheap. It gets the job done. But I don’t love it.
Design’s divergent process and human centered activities allow you to create meaningful propositions and solutions that go beyond measurable function or specifications, and into the realm of love and loyalty. That is what this “Spirit” is.

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