Design Thinking Practice: Designing for What’s Next

What does it mean to take Design Thinking and actually apply it in the world?

This was the subject of a series of webinars hosted by the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement. The webinars featured Co-CEO Liz Weaver speaking with Cense Ltd. President Cameron Norman.

In this first in a series of posts, we outline the key steps in applying design thinking in practice by looking back at this series and begin with the idea of designing for what’s next.

A Framework for Change

The series was set up by a look at designing for what’s next. In this discussion, Cameron Norman introduces the Design Helix – a multi-stage framework for putting design thinking into action.

The Design Helix (below) is based on our two decades of experience designing products, services, and systems at Cense and reflects the literature on design and design thinking. It’s a framework – a means of thinking about design — and not a prescription.

This multi-stage framework is designed like a helix partly to reflect the very fact that most of what humans engage with is created (designed). Design is at the DNA core of what we humans generate into the world — for good or otherwise.

The helix has two major strands that are tied together by activities that go in sequence but may have greater or lesser roles as one progresses through them. The framework is meant to guide design and provide a means to account for the key aspects of the design process. It is not prescriptive in the methods that articulate this design practice. Many different methods can be used to support this work.

Designs are rarely ‘one and done’ and are iterative, thus the helix actually winds its way around and connects multiple iterations together as illustrated in the image below.

Designing What’s Next introduced attendees to this design helix and what it means in practice. The helix will be further discussed and elaborated in a second series that we’ll cover in future posts. A recording of the conversation is below.

We will look at this process in greater detail in future posts as we walk through this series on applying design thinking and reviewing the Design Helix.

For more information on this approach and to apply it to your work, contact us. This is the approach we take with our clients and train those working alongside us.

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