Owen, C. Design Thinking: Noters on its Nature and Use. Design Research Quarterly, Vol 2. No 1, January 2007, pp. 16-27

The article defines design thinking as a complementary to science thinking and suggests that a balance between them is needed when solving many of the large problems we as a humanity are facing (e.g. large scale unemployment, climate change etc.). The article is an adaptation of a keynote speech at the international conference on design research and education for the future 2005.

In the article, Owen separates for example science, art, law, medicine and design thinking based on what is the need/goal of the field, what kind of values drive the field, and what kind of measures are used. Interestingly, the basic process of knowledge creation (in an abstract level) is the same across the different disciplines. According to Owen, the main difference between science and design is on measuring the success of activities. Science aims for understanding and measures the correctness, while design aims for form and measures the effectiveness.

Owens gives design thinking the following characteristics:

  • Conditioned inventiveness
  • Human-centered focus
  • Environmental-centered concern
  • Ability to visualize
  • Tempered optimism
  • Bias for adaptivity
  • Predisposition towards multi functionality
  • Systemic vision
  • View of the generalist
  • Ability to use language as a tool
  • Affinity for teamwork
  • Facility to avoid the necessity of choice
  • Self-governing practicality
  • Ability to work systematically with qualitative information