The Role of Critical Thinking in the Design Process
We've written a bit before about what we think here at ZURB about critical thinking and design, but in most design companies critical thinking doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Critical thinking plays a big role in design. It helps define the pace of a project and keeps a team on a tight schedule. It also sets solid expectations and helps your team build confidence in its goals. Critical thinking often means repeating a task or revisiting a checklist, which brings efficiency to all parts of a project— and everyone loves efficiency, right?
We often hail design thinking as a savior for opening up problems. In a service organization, however, closing problems down is equally important for sustainability and profitability. A smart approach to critical thinking can expose and shut down a problem before it has a chance to become a big issue.
Designers often mistake creative freedom for controlled discovery, yet even in design thinking, constraints provide structure. Those constraints can provide a strong framework for goal-setting and having very focused goals helps balance the uncertainty of opening up lots of projects.
Don't assume reaching those goals means you have to do everything yourself, though. In fact, critical thinking is very much a collaborative process— as is design thinking. Designers need to understand that sometimes they're just a piece of a larger puzzle, or are there to apply their unique talents to a portion of the overall project.
At first glance, critical thinking may not seem important to the overall success of a design project. Yet it's a vital component that shouldn't be overlooked.
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