Design Thinking ? A New Movement of the New Age


A Happy New Year!

I wish for a more active mood to emerge in Japan for the year of 2011. I strongly expect it to happen….

Over the past two to three years, I’ve noticed the phrase, ‘Design Thinking’ has spread gradually through the world.  How people interpret this word may differ according to each individual, but basically I think it stands for the essence of wisdom for how to address the very complicated issues of the world.

As I have mentioned several times in my blog, today, the word ‘Design’ is not confined to the dimension of objects or shapes only. It also refers to the act of presenting practical solutions to complex problems by taking into account various ideas from diverse viewpoints.  In other words, we should understand it as a process of ‘Design Thinking’.

I feel that this phenomenon is observed in many areas.  For instance; a scientific approach by the Open Systems Science of Dr. Mario Tokoro of Sony , Graduate School of Design at Harvard, the D School at Stanford, or the i.School  at the University of Tokyo

Design Thinking often uses the process of presenting figures to summarize and clarify issues.  The IdeasLab of the World Economic Forum may be one of such examples that are based on these concepts.  I recently had an opportunity to participate in meetings at WEF in Dubai; Global Redesign Summit (Ref.1) and Global Risk Response Network  (Ref.1). Nice visual demonstrations were prepared by Design, Innovation Council and the like, meant to clearly suggest the importance of showing and visualizing complex ideas and issues for better understanding.

Recently, designers have more opportunity to work in business sectors.  I think this is partly because of the trend I described above, combined with various technologies to present information in visual ways based on the rapid progress of digital technologies.  Examples of such designers would include Mr. Ken Okuyama (Ref.1 in Japanese), Mr. Issey Miyake (Ref.1 in Japanese), and Mr. Kashiwa Sato (Ref.1 in Japanese).
Because they are all international designers, always thinking about the essences of the human mind, they naturally acquire visions to respond to today’s need to create ‘Open and Demand-driven Innovation’.

We have been organizing the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) since 2009, and bearing in mind the trend described above, for 2010, we invited a group of youths to do a workshop under the theme ‘ Impact Japan : Design Thinking’ (Ref.1).  This triggered the foundation of our institution, Impact Japan.  Nikkei newspaper put an advertisement article on its December 29th morning issue about the Design Thinking activities that originated in GEW Japan.

I feel the wisdoms of the world working to adapt to the new age.  Now, how will Japan do this year?