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Solution Thinking and the
Design of Development
Solution Thinking and Design
For skilled and professional problem solvers, there has been a remedial expansion of the
problem set that falls under the umbrella of “design” solutions.
The expansion asserts that design is something that should be applied to a broader range
of reasons why a problem is “important”.
For example, aesthetics, economies, learning, ecology and other matters are all “valid”
subjects for design.
Part of seeing design as a more conceptually global practice has included some popularity
of equating design with problem solving.
In that sense, it is equated with solution development and, furthermore, is sometimes
positioned as essential to problem solving where complexity is a challenge to gaining a
necessary and sufficient outcome.
In that attitude, designers who solve problems are looked at for their methods of solving,
particularly the “thought processes” involved.
In that way, even the layperson can appreciate the implications of looking for “design
The design of Development
However, maintaining some distance from the cache of the Design Thinking term and its
related vocabulary is not a bad idea.
In a different perspective, designers (and however they think) are participating in
development of solutions; that is, they are participating in Solution Thinking.
A “solution” to a problem is normally an acceptable outcome of intentionally developing a
future state. However, there are such things as unintentional solutions. The thinking that
supports successful development is the essence of purposeful “Solving”. The primary
contribution of Design to solutions is in the managed intentionality of the development to
produce an accepted outcome.
While we can see design as a set of influences on the terms of acceptability used in
development, the progression from problem to solution is per se Solution Thinking.
We can certainly consider “the Design process” as a process of arriving at the terms of
acceptability used during development.
However, we can argue quite strongly that the work of progressing the solution from a
state of need to a state of agreeable usage is development.
Development uses design as part of Solution Thinking. In the following, that idea is
described on its own terms.