Lots of people will agree with the statement “Designing is a kind of problem-solving.” But I disagree, especially in light of how we typically think of problems in everyday life. Problems are human constructs – nature has no problems. Psychologists may have a more sophisticated way of thinking about problem-solving, but, in my experience, most designers and the average “man on the street” are not up to their level. In any case, my interest is in how designers treat problem-solving in their everyday activities. In this post, I’ll explain why I think that designing should definitely not be thought of as problem-solving.
I have written previously about balance. I proposed that one can model a situation as a set of forces (economic, technological, societal, etc.) that balance one another, and that if the current situation is not coincident with the balance point, then their difference represents a perceived need.
Design plays a pivotal role in this model as the means by which imbalances are addressed by trying to move the current situation toward the balance point. As such, I think of designing as more balance-seeking than problem-solving.
In this post, I want to examine some of the implications of this for design thinking and designing as a human activity.
While in England in 2007, it took me several weeks to get used to looking the other way when crossing a street. Exactly how that happened has led me to revise how I think students should be taught, how “teaching to the test” is bad, and how we might be able to help make our students think more deeply and creatively.