OpinionVisual Thinking

Design Thinking and Framing

LIghtbulb joke

“How many designers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Does it have to be a lightbulb?”

The theme of this week’s quotes has been ideas. Especially, how to visualise them and how to elaborate on them.

Yes. My quotes have a theme, in case you didn’t notice.

I love this joke. I first read it in Warren Berger’s excellent book ‘Glimmer’ in 2009 and I’ve been using it with groups ever since.

Joke aside, it has a serious message.

Design is about ideas. Ideas don’t arrive fully formed, they are elaborated upon both in form and function or utility and significance.

In Design Thinking parlance, the designer is ‘reframing’ the problem/challenge to ensure they understand it fully before investigating possible solutions.

The first books I read about design were by Ben Shneiderman in 1987 and Don Norman in 1988 and the message was the same then as it is now, and has been for millennia before – frame your problem. (Feel free to guess the book titles in comments below. )

When you have your next idea turn it:

  • upside-down
  • inside-out
  • expand it
  • shrink it
  • play with it
  • thinker with it
  • add/subtract
  • analyse
  • synthesise
  • Above all… Share it.

And why not tell a good joke at the same time.

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