Thursday, October 8, 2015

Design Thinking Piaget

I was recently struck by the similarities between Piaget's theory of Cognitive Development and the elements of Design Thinking, both in the context of the processes and the traits needed by the Design Thinker.

For now, I'm calling this the Developmental Stages of Creativity. It may be helpful to review Piaget's Theory of Cognition and become familiar with the phases of Design Thinking before considering this material.

Developmental Stages of Creativity

4Individual-reflexiveYoung Adult
YouthConcrete operational
  • Stage 0 – Guided primarily by the client's beliefs about the safety of their environment (i.e. comforting, safe and secure vs. hurtful, neglecting and abusive). Being in a "safe" environment  contributes to tolerance of ambiguity, which is a core aspect of the early stages of Design Thinking. Conversely, negative experiences lead to fear of the unknown. (A hint about this may be found in the designer's comfort with the process of "brainstorming." which can generate significant ambiguity.)
  • Part 1 – Relative fluidity of thought. Knowledge is obtained through experiences, stories, images, contact with other people and use of rapid prototyping and sketches.
  • Part 2 – Discovery of pre-exisitng firm rules or "limits"). The "Deep Dive".
  •  (Note: Use of metaphors and symbolic language in this stage may lead to misunderstandings or conflicts between stakeholders.)
  • Part 3 – Discovery of existing authorities or standards. (Note; Some stakeholders may want to ignore core or "guiding" principles, or other's POVs, in an effort to reduce conflicts arising from inconsistencies. Stopping here could result in failing to "solve the problem".)
  • Part 4 – Challenging of core assumptions, which leads to exploration and discovery of new interrelationships and the need to resolve conflicts within those as well.
  • Part 5 – Discovering the interrelationships and conflicts resulting from inherited assumptions. Conflicts are resolved by deeper understanding of the complexities and multidimensional, interdependent factors which cannot be understood or explained simply.
  • Part 6 –  Understanding and integrating other's points of view and responding to them fluidly and flexibly with a broad range of tools and skills.

If you ever find yourself, or your clients, stuck in your problem solving process, it may be helpful to consider everyone's stage of creative and emotional development and move towards an activity that can help move thru the blockage.

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