How To Design For The Future

Design Thinking is a creative approach to solving problems with specific tools, methods and ways of thinking in which designers are proficient. Everyone has heard about it, someone has tried it somewhere… but hardly anyone uses it on a daily basis.

“A lot of information is needed to provide strategic advice for tomorrow’s trends.”

One of the reasons for just experimenting with this methodology is the lack of a “where to go” framework that directs the strategic goals of the organization. Without knowing the direction, this process becomes a mistaken effort, causing confusion, disorientation and only fun play in the design of solutions. Without upfront and looking forward mindset is a waste of time to play with colourful post-ites . Creating ideas for a call is wrong, it needs the right fuel to be able to appear. The Design Thinking process should start with changing behaviour in understanding the context of the future. The best way to do this is to track, scan, analyze and work with trends.

Most people would think a trend is: “A concrete and specific new manifestation like fashion style, a novel product or a tech gadget.” or “A new attitude, behavior, need, want or value as seen within certain groups in society, like a focus on eco-friendly consuming or a need for more transparency.”

But the meaning and definition of the trend are more to:

  • prevailing tendency > not a fashion hype
  • general movement > not a fad
  • line of development > not a novelty

The trend is a direction of change in values and needs which is driven by forces and manifests itself already in various ways within certain groups in society. It meaning is a general awareness of the world to come. It is a knowledge of movements in society, economy, geopolitics, environment and in a technology.

A lot of information is needed to provide strategic advice of tomorrow’s, which is why trends are so important to work with on a regular basis. Powerful trends are reshaping businesses, driving new technologies, hafting talent needs and changing human behaviour, so is crucial for all industries to stay up to date with these changes, and respond accordingly. The aim is to shape and discipline brain work to be more flexible over the whole spectrum of likely futures that depend on many possibilities and can influence strategic decisions.

Trends are also a part of forecasting methodology, which is making predictions of the future based on past and present data and most commonly by the analysis of mechanisms and changes in their functioning and the impact they bring. This approach should be sensitive to the spirit of times, work in an organized way and be capable of filtering the most relevant information.

picture of wall with post its

I’ve worked with trends for quite some time and more often I felt that the outcomes were often solutions for today not for the future. As a result, the inspiration stage is usually focused on investigating the present and the immediate past only. This shows the difference between the design thinking process and FUTURES THINKING which aims to illuminate possibilities 10–15 years down the road. The process of work on the innovation assumes that there is no one future because there are many of them — that’s why the name of the process is in the plural (futures).

graphic design thinking

Both of these processes are important and do not exclude each others — trends can feed the design process, and design helpsin understanding and working with trends. An incentive for change and innovation can arise everywhere. In design thinking, we focus on users and their needs, and in futures thinking on the signals of change and expectations.

Design Thinking connects to a specific concept and idea that is prototyped and tested. Futures Thinking provides a series of scenarios to help illustrate many options for the future without specifying an exact forecast. As a next step, you can design product or service concepts for each of these future scenarios, which means that the endpoint of the Futures Thinking process can be seen as a starting point for the Design Thinking process, one can feed into the other.

Futures Thinking // benefits

  • new business opportunities
  • supports business choosing which risks taking
  • simplifies the complex matter in an easy and digestible way
  • helps to visualize where the organization will be in the future
  • provides an inspirational feed for design processes
  • builds a roadmap of development

This process can often seem foggy and uncomfortable — just like Design Thinking when you were not familiar with it. I hope that this introduction to work on the innovation of a future based on trends has interested you and made you see the value in it. If so, get ready because it is just the beginning of the movement that will bring both disciplines closer and start a conversation about how we do it at hubraum.

To make the right decisions, you need to know the facts — and where and how to find them? This you will learn in the next article telling how to recognize and classify trends.

Stay trend tuned ?

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