Tim Brown, chief executive officer of the human-centered design firm IDEO, is one of those people whose attempts to get from meeting to meeting are often interrupted by those seeking his insights on the way forward, as the rise of technology creates opportunities and poses risks for societies across the globe.
Brown said he sees this question of how to achieve equitable progress amid technological change as a design challenge. Devex caught up with Brown in Davos last week, to discuss the role of human-centered design in maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of this transition. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
There is a lot of interest from professionals working in global health, international development, and humanitarian response in human-centered design. IDEO is in high demand for challenges including those captured by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Can you tell me more about your definition of design thinking, and why you think there is so much interest in applying this approach to big global challenges?
Design thinking is all about gaining insight into the needs of people, turning those insights into ideas that you try out really quickly and then getting those things as they turn out to be right and work into the world.
The reason we’re seeing interest in human-centered design for the SDGs is that we’re trying to serve folks who have great needs, and if you only look at that through a business lens or a technology lens, it’s going to be very hard to be successful. Design thinking is a way to look at innovation by serving the needs of those people. So it’s not surprising to me that there’s interest in the tools we make available to help people in this sector take on the skills of design thinking.
Read the full article about design thinking impacting development by Catherine Cheney at Devex.
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