Unthinking Design

I guess when you organize an event that the words design and thinking are embedded in its title you’re inviting challenges from the audience. Yes, I became frustrated very quickly with the discussion. Yes, I’ve stayed standing at the back of the room, where the chairs were laid out in a circle. The event threw me back in memory to the design thinking unConference of 2011.

Read a bit about my design thinking unConference
first impressions and following thoughts in the embedded links.

However, now we were invited to a free event. We watched a movie and convened afterwards to engage in discussion. I was hoping to feel more engaged following the not totally impressive movie (Design & Thinking). Why then did I say yes when asked if I’d enjoyed the movie?


I’m not a big fan of the term design thinking. You design, you think, you do those things all the time. The two words together don’t add up to much more than any of them on their own. But still they’ve allowed a few people to generate a buzz which has probably pushed their revenue stream a step further. And then some others are offering design thinking programs, unConferences, a LinkedIn Group or two…

Our world is full of opportunities and challenges. When everyone knows you, knows what you do and looks up to what you can offer, your life can be easy. How many people do I know that are blessed with such a reality? My guess is ah, none.

So part of the energy that I feel exists in the room when I come to design nerds events is that of craving for opportunity. For some it is employment, for others it’s just some sort of connection. Whatever your reason and however impatient I might become with design nerds gatherings, I’m always impressed with the platform. It is engaging, thought provoking and occasionally inspiring.

Did we really need the panel following the movie? Were the talents in the room fully employed? I can go on raising questions but my point is that no matter how open minded I might be when I engage with others, my expectations come with me, pulling at my sleeve, like a child seeking attention. So I was standing at the back of the room, as were many others, mostly because sitting throughout the movie was enough for me. Of course I was making sure to have a convenient escape route. But just like I’ve enjoyed the movie even though it wasn’t entirely interesting, I was hoping to engage in compelling discussion.

The intro and panel, unfortunately, were not the right vessel to transport me – from the passive experience of watching the movie – into the public realm of open discussion. And here I am, reading my own words and saying, hey look: design thinking; public realm; open discussion! Each of them encompasses a world of thought and action. Together they provoke even more. So what is it that I expect when I sign up for an event? Should I expect even more?

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