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Design Thinking Made Visible Research

Updated: Aug 21


Lessons Learned Beginning in 2002


Among the most important research projects that informed the Rethinking Design Thinking book was this Humantific Analytics Project: Design Thinking Made Visible that spanned numerous years beginning in 2002 and is still ongoing.


We provided the classroom "Draw Your Design Process" exercise and the tools, and invited numerous schools to participate. Included in this initial round was Aarhus School of Architecture, (Denmark), Domus Academy, (Italy), National Institute of Design, (India) University of Kassel, (Germany) and the Regents Business School, (UK).


Our focus was then and remains now on methodologies related research. Subsequently we presented the results at numerous conferences around the world often getting smiles and chuckles from the audience as the diversity of student perspectives on processes being taught was revealed via visualization.


Making one classrooms assumptions around process visible can be enlightening and still today often surprising. Included in the study was the Cognitive/ Thinking Styles Profile of the class. Many findings came out of that study that we still make use of in practice today 2022.



Among the findings that shocked some viewers was that often no process activtiy occurred upstream from a given brief. See 10 Findings screens 119-129.


For anyone paying attention it was rather clear wake up call that moving into the terrain of more complex problems was going to involve alot more than just adding systems thinking to traditional design methods. For us this study represented a turning point in terms of being committed to the idea that traditional design methods require significant redesign for the upstream arenas of complexity beyond product, service and experience briefs.


By looking at some of the papers being published today being framed as Design for Complexity, clearly not everyone got that message..:-)







This research is still ongoing. If your school has an interest in participating send us an email.

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