Information Systems and Design Thinking

Published by Lex on

In some ways, information systems are the ultimate application area for design thinking. But you know what?

I absolutely hate Design Thinking. It sounds pretentious. Fancy terminology for simple ideas that time forgot.

And you know what is worse than Design Thinking, it is people that are doctrinaire about its application.

Take a problem, brainstorm some solutions, make a prototype of a solution, test the solution with people that might use it and make necessary improvements.

Seriously, that is it. “Oh, but you’re missing the nuance.” Well as Steve Martin used to say back when he was funny, “well excuuuse me.”

Our earliest human ancestors figured this out. We didn’t need the brilliant David Kelly of IDEO fame to write a book about it to learn about the principle.

Nuance is a fancy word for extraneous details. The devil is, of course, in the details. The devil is also in the big picture. The devil is everywhere. The devil hangs out with Murphy (the guy with the law) and those two bastards mess with everything.

So Lex, what is with this new tone? This is not very professional. Well, a professional tone is pretty boring.  It is watered down muck intended to obfuscate, not illuminate.

Too many of us use information to obfuscate rather than illuminate. Of course, there are degrees.  There is intended obfuscation ( hello politicians) and then there is just plain lack of clarity and/or ambiguity.

Translating, communicating and transmitting complexity is  not a task to be taken lightly, and our systems are letting us down epically.

And by systems, I mean everything about information systems from a single human brain to our entire system of sharing information (data, books, media, and education). The human brain is an awesome system, but it was not designed for our current information rich world.

Our information systems are amazing too. It is too bad that they don’t quite work. A lot of information is lost in the translation from analog to digital. 

While both analog and digital systems have infinite potential, the discovery process for information is not adequate. The assumptions that guide the search engines like Google are at best approximations for finding information.

I spend way too much time and energy on this site expounding about the challenges and problems of information management. Sometimes I just get lost in the magnitude of the issue, and that is not helpful to anyone.

That is largely why I took a break from working on this site. But I am back and I am determined to look for approaches and solutions to the big information and communication problem. A fresh approach is needed and we are mentally locked into using the same thinking that created this situation.

The only way that I know how to solve an intractable problem is to look at it with fresh eyes.

And using the basic ideas that underpin Design Thinking, may in fact, be the best way to get us out of this mess.

So despite the pretentiousness, applying Design Thinking methodologies to the big information, small communication issues may help us out of the data trap.