Design thinking provides a rich suite of tools and templates for idea generation and innovation development, and an exciting point of departure for any educator, researcher or changemaker interested in collaborating with a community of people and seeking to overcome barriers to creativity.

Below, I’ve posted some of the resources I’ve developed during my time as a design thinking researcher, as a change facilitator and as a post secondary instructor. I’m looking forward to developing more resources, and to organizing these into some more practical categories, but for now – let’s start doing design thinking!

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 10.29.58 PMCreativity and Innovation processes – the College PD Series February 2019

Design Thinking OER – Design Thinking Methods Card Assignment Guide -Dorland 2018
Design Thinking OER – ePortfolio Assignment Guide – Dorland 2018
Design Thinking OER – Innovation Case Study Assignment Guide -Dorland 2018
Design Thinking OER – Participation and Group Work Peer and Self Assesment Guide -Dorland 2018
Design Thinking OER – Podcast Interview Assignment Guide -Dorland 2018
Design Thinking OER – Reflective Statement Assignment Guide -Dorland 2018
Design Thinking OER – Sample Design Thinking course outline -Dorland 2018


Some recommended readings…

For those of you with an appetite for a bit more, here are some of my favourite design thinking focused resources. The following are some references to get you started with thinking about the way that designing our thinking to foster innovation and creativity can impact the solutions we propose.

Deconstructing the Historical Impact of Design for change
Consider Horace Miner’s satirical “Body Rituals of Nacirema” which pokes fun at the way that we mythologize other cultures as a warning about making assumptions about participants when designing for change. With that in mind, Madsbjerg and Rasmussen’s “Anthropologist Walks into a Bar”shows us how qualitative research that engages participants can help us bridge the complexity gap when facing
global challenges.

Design in a Complex World: Wicked problems require intricate design thinking
To understand our role in designing innovations for change, we need to understand design thinking as a way to reorient our approach. Tim Brown’s most important TED Talk (“Designers to Think Big”) and Rittell’s concept of “Wicked Problems” combine in a fascinating case study about designing innovation in health care, which you can watch here: Transforming Healthcare for Children and their Families (video)

From Passive to Purposeful: Understanding the Active Role of Designing for change
Innovations and insights have a ripple effect in our world. The following examples introduce ideas about how what seem like passive innovations play a purposeful role in creating change – both for good and for bad.
• Everyday Ethics in Design (video)
• Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
• A Radical Way of Unleashing a Generation of Geniuses,
• “The Era of Blind Faith in Big Data Must End.”(TED Talk by Catherine O’Neil)

Equality, Empathy and Ethics in Designing for Change
Participants are at the centre of how proposed innovations are implemented and how they succeed. When proposing and testing an idea, considerations of the role of equality, empathy and ethics are key.
• “Inside Facebook’s AI Workshop”
• “Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem,”
• California Tests Ballot Box of the Future(CBS Video)

Community Driven Innovation Design
Using inquiry led, design oriented thinking to create change requires us to work with participants, and to include them in all stages of empathy, definition, prototyping, iteration and testing. The following are some examples of how this can be accomplished.
• “Uninvited Guests” (video)
• “Lego Makes Everything Better: Even a Prosthetic for Kids,”


Design Thinking References (Academic)

For more of an academic take on design thinking, design ethnography and design practice, I often turn to these references:

Focus 1: Design Studies

The field of design studies forms the basis for my area of inquiry, and the grounding for my definitions of cultural production and cultural producers. Scholarly contributions of interest in this area focus on the historical role of design in society (Bennett, 2006; Margolin, 2002; Papanek, 1971), contemporary understandings of the scope and impact of design as a form of cultural production (Brody & Clark, 2009; Julier, 2000; Laurel, 2003; McCracken, 2008), and the context in which design expertise is developed and practiced (Cross, 2004; Lupton, 2011; Oak, 2013; Oxman, 1999).

Bennett, A., & Heller, S. (2006). Design studies: Theory and research in graphic design. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.

Brody, D., Clark, H. (Eds.). (2009). Design studies: A reader. London, UK: Berg. pp 68 – 115 (Section 2: Design thinking).

Cross, N. (2004). Expertise in design: an overview. Design Studies, 25(5), 427-441.

Julier, G. (2000). The culture of design. London, UK: Sage.

Laurel, B. (Ed.). (2003). Design research, methods and perspectives. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Margolin, V. (2002). The politics of the artificial: Essays on design and design studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McCracken, G. D. (2008). Transformations: Identity construction in contemporary culture. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Oak, A. (2013). As you said to me I said to them: Reported speech and the multi-vocal nature of collaborative design practice. Design Studies, 34, 34 – 56.

Oxman, R. (1999). Educating the designerly thinker. Design Studies 20, 105 – 122.

Papanek, V. J. (1971). Design for the real world: Human ecology and social change. New York: Pantheon Books.

Focus 2: Creative Practice

Within the larger field of design studies, a focus has emerged on forms of practice and unique aspects of design methodology. This area of scholarship is marked by an emphasis on three unique aspects of design practice. First, logical or associative thinking patterns employed by designers (Buchanan, 1992; Cross, 2011; Dorst, 2011; Rowe, 1987; Schön, 1983). Secondly, research and participatory creation practices (Anderson, Bell, & Salvador, 1999; Crouch & Pearce, 2012; Gunn, Otto, & Charlotte Smith, 2013; Rodgers, P., & Yee, J., 2015; Strickler, 1999; Wasson, 2000). And third, forms of tacit and enculturated knowledge gained through experience in the studio setting (Cross, 1997; Mareis, 2012).

Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5 – 21.

Cross, N. (1997). Descriptive models of creative design: application to an example. Design Studies, 18, 427.

Cross, N. (2011). Design thinking: Understanding how designers think and work. Oxford, UK: Berg.

Crouch, C., & Pearce, C. (2012). Doing research in design. London, England: Berg.

Dorst, K. (2011). The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application. Design Studies, 32(6), 521-532.

Gunn, W., Otto, T., & Charlotte Smith, R. (Eds.). (2013). Design anthropology. theory and practice. London, UK: Bloomsbury.

Julier, G. (2007). Design practice within a theory of practice. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, 1(2). 43 – 50.

Mareis, C. (2012). The epistemology of the unspoken: On the concept of tacit knowledge in contemporary design research. Design Issues, 28(2), 61-71.

Rodgers, P., Yee, J. (Eds.). (2015). The Routledge companion to design research. New York, NY: Routledge.

Rowe, P. (1987). Design thinking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Salvador, T., Bell, G. & Anderson, K. (1999). Design Ethnography. Design Management Journal 10(4), 35-41.

Schön, D. (1983) The reflective practitioner. How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Strickler, Z. (1999). Elicitation methods in experimental design research. Design Issues, 15, 27 – 39.

Suri, J. F., & Hendrix, R. M. (2010). Developing design sensibilities. Rotman
Magazine
, 58 – 63.

Wasson, C. (2000). Ethnography in the field of design. Human Organization, 59(4). 377 – 388.

Focus 3: Cultural producers/cultural production

Within contemporary understandings of design practice and cultural production, designers are understood not only as practitioners, but as agents of change within the creative and cultural industries. Notably, the designer has been conceptualized as a cultural intermediary by Bourdieu in his study of French society (Bourdieu, 1984), a description that has been furthered by scholars from sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies (du Gay & Nixon, 2002; Matthews & Smith Maguire, 2012; Matthews & Smith Maguire, 2014; McFall, 2002; Negus, 2002). In addition, the space of the design studio has been situated within the larger creative industries, and can be understood as a space of cultural production – one which impacts and is impacted by both culture, and the economy (M. Banks, Gill, & Taylor, 2014; M. J. Banks, Caldwell, & Mayer, 2009; Bourdieu, 1993; du Gay, 1998; Mahon, 2000). Finally, the practice of design as a form of cultural production is understood as a unique type of labour, practiced within a larger system or circuit of production and consumption (Becker, 1974; du Gay, Hall, Janes, Mackay, & Negus, 1997; Gregg, 2009).

Banks, M., Gill, R., & Taylor, S. (Eds.). (2014). Theorizing cultural work: Labour, continuity and change in the cultural and creative industries. Florence, KY: Taylor and Francis.

Banks, M.J., Caldwell, J., Mayer, V. (Eds.). (2009). Production studies. Cultural studies of media industries. New York, NY: Routledge.

Becker, H. (1974).  Art as collective action. American Sociological Review, 39(6), 767 –776.

Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1993). The field of cultural production: Essays on art and literature. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. (Part I: The Field of Cultural Production: The Field of Cultural Production, or: The Economic World Reversed, The Production of Belief: Contribution to an Economy of Symbolic Goods, The Market of Symbolic Goods, 30 – 141).

du Gay (1998). Production of culture/cultures of production. London, UK: Sage.

du Gay, P., Hall, S., Janes, L., Mackay, H., & Negus, K. (1997). Doing cultural studies: The story of the Sony Walkman. London, UK: Sage.

du Gay, P., & Nixon, S. (2002). Who needs the cultural intermediaries? Cultural Studies, 17(4), 495 – 500.

Gregg, M. (2009). Learning to (love) labour: Production cultures and the affective turn. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 6(2), 209 – 214.

Lupton, E. (Ed.). (2011). Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.

Mahon, M. (2000). The visible evidence of cultural producers. Annual Review of Anthropology, 29, 467 – 492.

Matthews, J., & Smith Maguire, J. S. (Eds.). (2014). The cultural intermediaries reader. London, UK: Sage.

Matthews, J., & Smith Maguire, J.S. (2012). Are we all cultural intermediaries now? An introduction to cultural intermediaries in context. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(5), 551 – 562.

McFall, L. (2002). What about the old cultural intermediaries? An historical review of advertising producers. Cultural Studies, 16, 532 – 552.

Negus, K. (2002). The work of cultural intermediaries and the enduring distinction between production and consumption. Cultural Studies, 16(4) 501-515.