Dr. Zeus*

“Excuse me, can you watch me jump off here?”

Design thinking is a term used to describe and communicate the component, that precedes articulation and action, in development processes. The act of design thinking is considered to help in the creation of innovative solutions to various types of problems and challenges. Design and thinking, being two broad based, naturally occurring human activities, encourage many interpretations for the term using these words.

The debate over the definition of design thinking although fascinating seems to me redundant. My tendency to see the humorous side of issues leads me to focus on the brighter side of the debate. I can’t help but sense the search for appropriation and control when people scramble to suggest their view of concepts and ideas. I hope to shy away from participating in this struggle but confess to having an urge to contribute to the aspired result: the definition.

The girl who asked me the question above was not my seven year old daughter. But it could have been her. Inbal has the same request from me almost every day. This is part of her getting to grips with the growing process that includes, as I notice, her need for approval, reinforcement and a sense of control. Throughout our lives those needs remain in us but are manifested in more subtle ways than this direct request for attention.

Are we really any different than our children, children in general, ourselves as children? When we are gathered together to seriously consider the fine details of what the meaning is; how we use; if it is the best way, what is it that excites us here? Our intellectual capacity is never (yet) separated from the body and emotions that encase us.

After reading ‘The Cat in The Hat’ dozens or maybe hundreds of times I came to realize that Dr. Zeus*, in his brilliant story had managed to both engage children (and adults) and mock them at the same time. What parent doesn’t struggle to cope with the demanding needs of their children. What parent doesn’t struggle with their own memory of childhood and the paralyzing realization of the need for boundaries.

Excuse me, what is design thinking?

Let me paraphrase from another place: if you can’t explain design thinking to your grandmother, take a break to reconsider. We use language to communicate and interact. We react to language with intellect and emotion. Design thinking as it is used in the complex interaction between creativity and planning, between service providers and clients is a useful tool. The better you understand the set of tools you have at your disposal, the more useful they become in your trade. Design thinking is a core tool in your creative set of skills.

“After you jump, could you watch me too (please)?”


* Inadvertently, I’ve wrongly spelled Dr. Seuss. I guess this is due to my first acquaintance with the pronunciation of  Theodor Geisel’s pseudonym as referring to the Greek God, Zeus. I’ve chosen to keep the misspelling for my impression that it is in line with my evolving commitment to thought and provoking. Thank you Judi for pointing to this confusion.

3 thoughts on “Dr. Zeus*

  1. I was particularly struck by the natural tendencies we have to be social, and to have others witness as we explore new things, for feedback.

    That’s surely the essence of design thinking. Good job for capturing it so brilliantly in this simple analogy.

    Perhaps that should be the theme of DT2012: Watch Me, Please?

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