Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Design Thinking in 10 to 20 years

In my class yesterday we discussed the future of design, interaction design and HCI. I asked the students about their view about the future for the discipline, profession and for research in the field of interaction design. Then they asked me about my predictions. Of course, I had predictions but here I will only mention one.

For quite some years I have predicted that the growing interest in design, design thinking, and design research and education will have a profound influence on the fundamental structure and organization of disciplines, schools, and universities. I think it is already possible to see this. When we bring in design thinking as a major component in a field, suddenly it is possible to see simlarities with disciplines that was not there before. We have already seen some new d-schools, for instance at Stanford. Even though these initiatives have not been successful yet, my prediction is that they will.

We might in some years see new academic constellations where we have design oriented "disciplines" from all parts of the traditional university structure coming together. We might as a first step see "old" units change their profile and become more designerly, like Ryerson Business School in Toronto who, as a school, has decided to transform the whole school into a design oriented school. Traditional art and design schools are also changing and opening up and inviting new disciplines, there are traditional technical disciplines that join forces with other design oriented disciplines in new unseen designerly "technical" schools.

Within 10 to 20 years we will see some universities changing their structure based on the notions of natural sciences, social sciences and humanities as the major components. As a part of that structure there will also be a design component (maybe design sciences even though I do not like that name). I am looking forward to this radical change of university organization.


Martin said...

I think this change is happening because the traditional university-way of analyzing and describing a problem is found to be limiting how well the problem can be changed. I think there is an attraction towards what design and other disciplines can offer in terms of changing stuff and influence the future. This can be called design thinking or action research and even the construction sciences, as I have tried to outline in my dissertation. Lately also Management Sciences, or whatever that thing is called, is starting to look at processes that will help leaders "to learn from the future as it emerges", as C. Otto Scharmer of MIT would say. Comparable to Roger Martin's "opposable mind", maybe...
I also think that it would be great to get more practitioners to think in terms of design. It might dissolve the trenches between academia and "the real world".

Erik Stolterman said...

Hi Martin

Thanks for a thoughtful comment and I agree with all you write, and again, I do believe this change will happen and also that it is already ongoing.


Martin said...

I notice that you often write about the next edge of interaction design.
I have a post on that here - from a personal perspective.
If you care to give a comment, please do