Whitaker, A., 2013. Coding Is An Art–Software People Should Learn “Art Thinking.”Co.Labs. Available at:http://www.fastcolabs.com/3019082/coding-is-an-art-software-people-should-learn-art-thinking[Accessed June 5, 2014].
Designers usually begin with a problem to be solved. As Tim Brown, one of Kelley’s cofounders in the design firm Ideo, wrote in theHarvard Business Review in 2008, design thinking is “a creative human-centered discovery process… followed by iterative cycles of prototyping, testing, and refinement.” In the same way that entrepreneurs are asked what pain point their product addresses, designers are asked what solutions they can find.
Although the design process can be full of “eureka!” moments and true contributions to how we all live, what it misses from art thinking is a comfort with the possibility of failure. In design thinking, you implicitly believe a solution is possible. In art thinking, you are leading from questions–trying to ask the biggest, messiest, most important questions, even if you are not sure you can answer them. Accepting that you might fail actually frees you to fumble inelegantly, to learn, even to waste time. Even if you move forward unpredictably in fits and starts, you stand a greater chance of the brilliant breakthroughs that create rather than meet demand. Art thinking created the first iPhone; design thinking made it a manufacturable, cultural phenomenon.
Art and design thinking can go hand in hand, offering rigor in a Q&A form. But leading from questions shifts the perspective–from an external brief to an internal compass. It allows people to bring their whole selves to work, to contribute from a place of authenticity and self-knowledge. Art thinking embraces the possibility that any of us might reinvent the world, not just make it incrementally better. For software builders who can effect change at massive scales, this way of thinking is especially powerful.