Simplicity is the name of the ballgame

Paul Myers MBA

Design your thinking for design thinking

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Design is the essence of creativity. Designers are those people driven by a vision or inspired by trying to solve a problem.

Teo Yu Siang said:

Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.

Problems can conjure up immediate ideas, potential solutions that spring to mind. Past experiences grapple to influence a designers’ attention.

Initial designs are rarely pure or simple.

Our minds incubate thoughts that can lead to radical design. Our thoughts have the power to make new connections and diverse inventions.

However, our minds are conditioned. Hard-wired from life-experience, formed by existing thinking. This is a human flaw, a defect that great designers learn to overcome.

Looking outside the box takes effort, refined by self-awareness and introspection.

We can be fooled by our thinking. Like when we believe that improvements equate to adding something new as opposed to removing something else. As such, simplicity-seeking is a highly attuned skill.

The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring. - Paul Rand

Image: Daniel Scarnecchia’s Rerendered image of Stanford D school’s Design Thinking hexagons


Great designers try to imagine a simpler version for the next generation of products and services. However, often our efforts to improve an existing design is overcomplicated when we try to simplify.

Image by joangonzalez from Pixabay

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. — Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci also said:

Art is never finished, only abandoned.

But this Da Vinci quote transcends generations:

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Designers are innovative artists who tussle with two choices:

  1. Invent incremental improvements for an existing product/service, or
  2. Invent something completely different

As such, doing is twofold. This first is low risk. The latter, inventing the new, is dependent on imagination. Unproven and untested ideas are more likely to fail due to the risk associated with imagination to invent the new.

Invention is born in imagination.

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Innovator’s dilemma

Imagination is the innovator's dilemma. Play it safe or take a punt to invent something entirely new.

  1. Should I continue to improve existing products/services? Or
  2. Should I take the risk to create something new?

Risk is therefore a crucial factor when it comes to design. Experimentation increases the likelihood of radical or revolutionary breakthroughs.

Revolutionary breakthroughs are the output of courageous designers and inventors.

Customers and investors assume improvements as normal, they expect it, but reward breakthroughs in different ways.

Breakthroughs are difficult to achieve, so only the brave risk this path as the chances of success are slim.

I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things. — Lindo Leader

Image by Chris Martin from Pixabay

Final thoughts

Design is a necessity in all aspects of life. Breakthrough inventions are highly reliant on great design, the fine line that separates expert performers from comfort zone squatters.

Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people. — Larry Page

Breakthrough innovation is only recognized when it succeeds, the point at which the impossible becomes possible. Innovation is necessary, but great design is the key to unlock competitive advantage.

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