Design thinking – everybody is doing it!

Posted on 01/01/2017 by IED

From primary ovarian insufficiency to improving psychological interventions, design thinking is making its mark. IED Chair Tania Humphries-Smith takes up the story

In the Sept/Oct 2016 issue, Ben Watson wrote about ‘Design Thinking as Strategy’ (p18) – essentially about applying the methodology used by designers to business and strategy development. Tim Brown CEO of IDEO, has also spoken about using design thinking for business strategy.[1] Design thinking is something in which I have a personal interest and an area from which I believe the IED, going forward, should seek members – I wrote about this in my second ‘View’ in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue.

I have just read an article published a few days ago by Bradford Goldense on design thinking for the Internet of Things[2],which considers how design thinking has affected the product development process, producing ‘Generation 8’, according to Goldense. Gen 8 suggests: “Right now, the value of the product is largely about the product itself. In the future, the value of the product will also be its information content, and its ability to aggregate vertically and horizontally in the cloud.”

This is, of course, of particular interest to engineering and product designers. However, precisely where design thinking is now being applied is considerably broader than that considered by Ben Watson in his article. A quick trawl on Google Scholar produced academic papers reporting on design thinking surfacing in a diverse range of subject areas – from primary ovarian insufficiency[3] to improving psychological interventions[4]. And before you all say it’s not the same kind of design thinking, ‘Oh, yes, it is!’ (well we are in panto season!). To quote: “Most clinicians are not prepared to provide integrated personal care to address all the clinical needs of women with primary ovarian insufficiency. Design thinking is an engineering methodology used to develop and evaluate novel concepts for systems.” (Martin al). However, it is noteworthy that virtually all the publications are from the US.

So, what is happening in the UK? How broadly is design thinking being adopted and how broadly should the IED embrace it? Have your say on this matter by voting in our new poll on the IED website.

Dr Tania Humphries-Smith CEng CTPD MIED FHEA FRSA (

[1]Brown, T. (2016) Design Thinking: thoughts by Tim Brown. Accessed on 7th Dec 2016 at

[2] Goldense, B. (2016) Design Thinking for IoT in the Product Development Process, MachineDesign. Accessed on 5 Dec 2016 at

[3] Martin, L.A. et al (2016) A design thinking approach to primary ovarian insufficiency, US National Library of Medicine. Access on 6 Dec 2016 at

[4] Yeager, al (2016) Using design thinking to improve psychological interventions: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 108(3), Apr 2016, 374-391.

Get Involved

If you would like to contribute to any discussions, write to: Dr Tania Humphries-Smith CTPD CEng MIED FHEA FRSA, Chair, at: The Institution of Engineering Designers, Courtleigh, Westbury Leigh, Westbury, Wiltshire BA13 3TA or email:


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