I think it is critical to promote and practice the fourth order design. It goes beyond just solving a problem and looks at the problem in an evaluative process. Is there a problem, is this the actual problem, what goals do the clients have and how can we look at the process and solution in entirely new ways so that the solution is not just short term but addresses the larger picture of the clients existence are all questions we must ask. In this process, we must include not only designers and their clients in the process, but bring others with fresh points of view into the mix as well. New perspectives will bring new questions that we may not conceive. How can we design in a bubble? At the very heart of what we do is to create solutions that better the outcomes for the user. We must delve into the depths of the issues of the user and their business to create the greatest outcome. This means we must partner with the user and learn all there is of their issues and goals, long and short term in order to identify the real issues and create unique and profound solutions.
Think tanks came into play in the early 90’s. IDEO was one of the first to break the rules and turn the design process upside down. They had individuals who were from various sectors of business such as industrial design, marketing, healthcare professionals, architects, and others. Each individual brought their own unique points of view. It was a breakthrough in design and problem solving. Since then, we have embraced this idea that the stated problem to be solved may not be the real problem.
In order to make this process work, our clients must be on board with a dissection of their lives, business and information. Otherwise, this will not work. However, we must also look at the community around the client and the problems to be solved. For example, in healthcare, we can solve the everyday issues of space, clearances, facilities needed, etc. But how do you address the human issues that are even more important. Both the healthcare workers and the patients have needs that we as designers can address. They may not even be aware of the needs as their agenda and focus is on giving medical care and keeping patients safe. The patients need these things, but they also need to feel safe, feel warm and cared for, feel comfortable and feel a sense of place and belonging in a sterile and sometimes hostile environment. These are not functional needs; they are emotional and spiritual needs. How do we as designers solve this? Especially when the healthcare community is entrenched in a standard of focus that is hard to penetrate. They don’t’ believe both issues can coincide. We as designers must look past the “cant’s” and design a way to make all issues important and workable. Hospital rooms that have soft fabrics, warm colors, windows to connect the patient to nature and light, personalization of the space, control over their environment, accommodations for family and guests for support and spiritual support are just some of the issues we need to design for. All of these issues are vital to patient care and quicker recovery. If no one asked the questions and looked past the norm, these elements would not be a part of today’s changing hospital and healthcare paradigm.
We can no longer design in a vacuum. Engaging the client and users along with introducing collaborators into the process will bring about new and unique ways of creating a holistic design solution. Collaboration, in addition to process, is a key factor in the successful completion of design execution. Collaboration occurs between team members, consultants and with the client. Client communication and collaboration is vital to understanding a project and providing a mutually beneficial outcome. “One way to help design thinking diffuse throughout an organization is for designers to make their clients part of the experience. We do this not just to give them the thrill of peering behind the wizard’s curtain but because we find that we invariably get much better results when the client is on board and actively participating.” (Brown 63)
Brown, Tim with Barry Katz. Change by Design. Harper Collins, 2009. Print.