I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Design + Thinking at a recent Design West Michigan event. It is a particularly timely opportunity for me to see it, as I’m just now celebrating my second year anniversary of digging into the world of design thinking.
The event was broken into two parts: the 75 minute movie screening followed by a 20 minute panel conversation. In summary, I’d give the movie an 8/10, and the panel a 17/10. (Ok, 17/10 is ridiculous. How about 11/10?)
I found the movie to be a wonderful introduction to design thinking if you’ve never encountered it before, and an excellent review of basic principles if you are already familiar with the topic. (Which reminds me a lot of the introduction to Extreme Programming you’d hear from Ron Jeffries and Chet Hendrickson: something for everyone!)
In particular, I enjoyed the segment showcasing Hands on Gourmet, an organization that helps a multidisciplinary team learn to work together by cooking together. I also liked how the movie emphasized that a design thinking team needs to be multidisciplinary and to be composed of multidisciplinary people. Visual design, brand, mood, and typography were never mentioned in the movie.
Of course, since I’m a tremendous Roger Martin fan, any movie which showcases multiple interviews with him, and especially when he gets the final statement in the movie, is good to me. :)
Overall I found the movie to be a bit too long. I did not understand the message behind the two segments (case studies?) about the bicycle company or the coworking space. I’d probably give the movie a 10/10 if a few segments like these had been cut and the overall length of the movie shorter.
The panel conversation, in contrast, was well above a rating of 10. It featured the head of Kendall College, the head of NewNorth, and a gentlemen from the Merrell outerwear company. The panel tackled some great questions, like how to introduce design thinking into both small and large organizations, what the panelists liked about the movie, and what they thought was missing from the movie.
An interesting question came from the audience: we talk a lot about teaching business and design students about design thinking, and the importance of building renaissance people at the university level. How might we start introducing students to design thinking concepts at the K-12 level?
The gentleman from Kendall had an interesting response: students spend the majority of their time learning to write in the context of spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. But writers spend the majority of their time thinking, researching, planning, and drafting — just like design thinkers spend their time thinking, researching, prototyping, and iterating. K-12 students who are taught how to think, prototype, and iterate will be well prepared to become multidisciplinary design thinkers in their professional lives.
All in all, I’m quite thankful for seeing the movie and learning from the panel. Thanks so much to Design West Michigan for the wonderful event!