Design Thinking is in a dilemma: In order for DT to be taken seriously by the business sector it must show how it can deliver quantifiable value. In order for the design community to embrace DT, it must show how design is accepted as a serious part of the business strategy, without taking a subservient role or sacrificing its integrity.
Because DT is operating within interdisciplinary territories, and some of these disciplines depend entirely on metrics, DT must also learn how to deliver measurable results. These quantifiable measurements however are not always in the form of Dollars, Yen or Euros; they are new, evolved value systems that are starting to penetrate even the hardcore left-brain disciplines like finance and banking.
DT has to be able to participate and deliver quantifiable measurements, or more importantly, participate in re-designing new value systems: financial systems, social systems, organizational systems, that eventually can be adopted by other industries or disciplines, “The Reformulation of Value.” Without metrics and benchmarks, in my opinion, DT will not be able to grow, or become an integral part of the business architecture. It will remain a small boutique strategy and remain part of the subconscious mind of the design culture.
The challenge now is to search for new value factors, with new norms, new benchmarks and metrics, that can eventually be shared with the disciplines with which it interacts. DT must establish close and collaborative relationships with left-directed systems of thinking, without sacrificing its integrity. It must search for common thought processes, which have been proven successful within the industry where they primarily reside, but they must be easily understood and applied within right-brain governed systems.
A great example is the QFD system (Quality Function Deployment), one of the closest benchmark systems with both, left & right brain characteristics.
QFD is a methodology that transforms user needs, wants and demands into a deliverable based on design, quality and metrics. QFD puts the emphasis on the customer, therefore adapting instantly to one of the main principles of DT: consumer-centric innovation.
Professor Hugh Claire: “QFD identifies the functions forming quality, and deploys methods for achieving the design quality into subsystems and component parts.”
Once DT value metric systems withstand the scrutiny, they become a permanent and integral part of the DT-strategy toolbox and subsequently subject to DT-Forensics.