Article by: Amira Ben Saoud


Thinking like a designer

PARCS Toguna

Solving problems and creating innovation are desires shared by EPUs, start-ups and companies with hundreds of employees in any sector. But how? That's the question that "Design Thinking" tries to answer in a holistic way.

Design Thinking? Never heard of it? Probably not quite true. Even if the term initially brings up only question marks, all of us will have had something to do with Design Thinking - maybe without even knowing it. Workplaces have changed drastically in recent years. It's not only the internet that has opened a vast number of new options - especially with regards to cooperation and co-creation , team and project related work is frequently the topic for discussion - but also in the "analogue" world. If you add to this: innovation, interdisciplinary nature and user oriented design, then you get pretty close to what Design Thinking is.

What is it?

Let's start again from the beginning: Design Thinking initially simply means to "think like a designer". That is, to use the methods which (industrial) designers use in their work and to apply it to other areas. The term is probably most often connected to the Californian company IDEO, who first marketed the Design Thinking system and uses it themselves. Flat hierarchies, project related team work and creative courage are part of a normal day in the office at IDEO - a core task of the company is to also teach this to others.


The labyrinth of innovation

Bene AG

The word "innovation" has maybe left its worst or best times behind - it depends on how you look at it. It has lost its buzzword status, i.e., its ability to impress simply when mentioned. In recent years it has been too frequently used by the business and advertising world in order to present a product, idea or process in a better light than others. The adjective "innovative" as it is often and happily used today is characterised mainly by one thing: its positive connotation. We meet this word frequently in our daily lives and it may even get on our nerves - after all anyone who ever had to do a project application may have been asked to demonstrate the innovation in their idea. Yet, innovation means renewal - after all that's what the word really means - and we interpret this as progress.

And why shouldn't we?

It could be that the people who are currently setting the pace in media, business, politics and advertising and therefore influence such connotations. It does not matter if they have been in their career for only a few years or are at the end of their professional life. All of them have seen a dramatic bandwidth of great innovation or at least have information about it and are benefiting from the fruits of these achievements in our most recent history. Even someone who is only 20 today can remember a time before Facebook and smartphones. Large parts of the population can remember what life was like without the internet and the opportunities it offers today. Put into this context, the positive charisma of the word "innovation" becomes even clearer. It is hardly surprising that technical developments which make our (working) life easier are met openly and positively. After all, we receive great benefits from them. However, it does take a certain time for the long term effects to manifest. Technical advancement can also have downsides - data monitoring, drones, weapons made in 3D printers for example. All of these are phenomenons which are not directly the fault of the innovation per se, but still a possible result.

Architecture & Design

Work in Progress: The Architect

A generalist and a specialist. God and Ted Mosby. Architects come in all shapes and sizes. What they actually have to be able to do has been discussed for thousands of years.

The world in seven days

Based on things in our part of the world, that have been shaped by Christian faith – you only need to think of the way we calculate our calendars – the Creator could be called the first architect, having created the entire world in six days plus a day of rest according to the Bible. There is a reason why early depictions of the creation of the world often show Jesus Christ representing the Father and measuring the globe with a compass. God as the architect is an example which combines both the power of the idea as well as the capacity of design and execution in itself, thereby indicating an ideal which has occupied the discussion around architecture for thousands of years.

Ever since people have been able to document buildings there has been a discussion over what the architect’s responsibilities really are. The word architect, which comes from Ancient Greek and which thanks to Latin is still used to designate the profession today, provides merely inadequate or partial information on the meaning of the term as we now use it. For instance it can be translated as “Chief Craftsperson” – and some architects would indeed rightly consider this to be an inadequate description of their activity.


Generation Y – A different species?

Members of generation Y are supposed to be qualified, tech-savvy and globalised. They are unwilling to compromise if the work does not bring personal fulfilment, and highly capable when they enjoy what they do. Despite their narcissism, they are reputed to have a strong sense of community and liberal views. Protest is not their thing, but they still want to save the world. They are 100% loyal, but only if they are 100% satisfied. Otherwise they pack their bags and move on. They seek out new challenges, with their universally recognised Bachelor's and Master's degrees, gained in the shortest possible time. At least in theory.

What can definitely be said about "Generation Y" in any case, is that everyone is writing about them. Since 1993, the term has been bandied around in all the newspapers, magazines and of course the Internet: the true home of this generation. Today its members are about 30 years old, and the hotchpotch of attributes ascribed to them is as heterogeneous as they are themselves.

Maybe now is an appropriate time to take another look at the "Millennials". One might almost say in retrospect, as the next generation dubbed "Z" with their smartphones at the ready is waiting in the wings and will soon conquer the labour market. 

After X comes Y, then Z

As dictated by the alphabet, Y follows X. "Generation X" came into the world in the '60s to '80s. The term was dreamed up by photographer Robert Capa and transferred into common parlance by Douglas Coupland's novel of the same name. Characterised by a high divorce rate and brought up by TV, the so-called "Gen X" is characterised as a work-shy, cynical generation that was hostile towards capitalism, caring little for career or prestige, but always wanting to be individuals. When this generation grew up, they didn't want to repeat the mistakes of their own parents and became "helicopter" parents to their children, the "Ys". Although the latter generation is less focused on individualism than their parents, due to their childhood upbringing which was based on reward and recognition, they are more confident. They demand a lot from their employers, want feedback and praise, but are more flexible. Because they have grown up in an economically crisis-ridden period in which technology is changing and improving very rapidly, they are always on the go, always ready for change.