Design thinking for research

OK, I know everyone talks about design thinking (or design stinking) and everyone has the word ‘design’ in their job title, but I think there’s still something there that could benefit the academia.

There are many takes on what design thinking is, where it comes from, and how to utilize it in various settings. I’m still a novice when it comes to design or design thinking, but here I’m drawing on Brown’s (2008) paper on design thinking. He illustrates an iterative cycle between 1. Inspiration -> 2. Ideation -> 3. Implementation and I think this could be utilized in research settings. Let me offer you one example on how to do it:

1. Inspiration -> i.e. “This sounds interesting, perhaps I should investigate it further.”

2. Ideation -> i.e. “How should I approach it?”

3. Implementation -> i.e. “From prototyping to bigger projects.”

There’s nothing new per se in this approach, I guess most of us conduct research by more or less following the logic presented above. But what design thinking can provide us with is the idea of quick prototyping: if it doesn’t work, drop it and continue with something else (but don’t throw it away!). Too often I get this feeling that we as researchers hold on to our ideas for too long, it’s almost as if they become our extensions. These are still initial ideas, but I’m looking forward to investigating in the near future the applicability of design thinking in the academia.

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