(Not) Thinking Designerly

Designers tend to work and think differently, particularly in how they tackle problematic situations. Encouraging stakeholders to adopt similar methods can be challenging.


Co-design participants often don’t see themselves as designers.

Service users and providers often focus on problems, describing further problems and in greater detail. They also often tend to jump directly to simplistic or direct solutions (“I need this”). Designers, alternatively, find it useful to explore the problematic situation (and possible ways of framing problems) and potential solutions in parallel. How can we encourage stakeholders to both explore problem-framings and potential solutions? How can we use design methods that make sense to service providers and service users to translate design thinking across different health departments?

For example, one workshop participant described difficulty developing ‘innovations’ with older people in Glasgow who just wanted to ‘moan’ about the same stuff.

Not all knowledge/expertise relevant to the design work is explicit, some is tacit, latent or hidden – especially knowledge from patients or “non expert” stakeholders. How can this knowledge inform design work?


Strategies… from User-centred Healthcare Design on Vimeo.

Avoid abstractions, give concrete examples.

Make design methods engaging, e.g. roleplaying, games.

Use making to encourage exploration of problem-framings and potential solutions  (personas, service/stakeholder maps, visualisations etc.)