Design is pretty trendy right now, and particular brands of design thinking methodologies from IDEO or the d. school have recently popularized the concept in educational settings. While these pioneer organizations offer a framework and a procedure to use design thinking, every designer carries her own unique design philosophy. Mine is rooted in my ability to think in terms of systems, supported by theories of behavioral change, and grounded in my approach to teaching.
My design principles are ingrained in the way I think about the world. I see things as sets of patterns, structures, and systems. I can zoom in and out of a problem and can visualize its abstract composition. This is key in the conceptual stage of a design project, and it allows me to problem-solve efficiently by placing ideas in a system of innovative solutions. I often draw schemas and map ideas on paper during that stage–like a puzzle that eventually fits together.
My design process is also based on an underlying theory of change that I have employed for the past few years: Azjen’s Theory of Planned Behavior. This empirically validated theory highlights the factors that impact how someone’s intention to change becomes an actual behavior. I use my understanding of the theory to better grasp aspects of a project that will need support in order for the design process to be carried out in actuality. A lack of appreciation for these factors explains how some design processes and even successful prototypes are not always fully implemented or accepted in reality.
Finally, my design practices are very close to the way I see my role as a teacher: to make ideas visible. Trained as a constructivist, I use design thinking activities to help people surface their thoughts, assumptions, and ideas about a topic. My responsibility, as a LX designer, is to support and empower others by leveraging their own creativity through clear outcomes, yet with flexible strategies. I create design activities the way I plan lessons: through the belief that change happens as we actively engage in the process of creating knowledge and meaning together.
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