Posting has been light here the past few weeks, partly due to most of my writing energy being focused on my project report on Design thinking and sustainability (PDF 1.5MB), my first major assessment for the Master of Sustainable Practice postgraduate degree I’m currently undertaking at RMIT.
The summary of the report is:
Media coverage of the impact of ʻdesign thinkingʼ – also described as ʻhuman-centred designʼ or ʻservice designʼ, among other terms – on business and society seems to be on the increase, with much of the discussion focusing on its application to innovation practice.
Simultaneously, the need for business and public services to integrate socially and environmentally sustainable practices is becoming more urgent and important to address pressing issues such as climate change, resource scarcity, environmental degradation and growing social challenges and perceived deterioration of community.
This paper briefly explores the impacts of design on business before providing a working definition and overview of the key themes of design thinking. It then outlines commonly recognised environmentally-focused sustainable design principles and considers how design thinking could be applied in support of these.
Although a (non-exhaustive) review of specific examples of design thinking applied to environmentally sustainable objectives was undertaken in preparation of this paper, such examples are relatively few. As such, while specific examples are touched upon, the primary focus of the paper is on the potential application of design thinking in this context.
While academic in tone (it is a uni assessment after all) and relatively long (20+ pages), I thought it might be of interest to some readers of this blog given the topic/focus.
As is often the case with this sort of things there are elements I’d improve/extend if I had more time – particularly I’d like to provide more than just passing comment to the link between sustainability and innovation – but I do hope the result provokes some interesting and beneficial dialogue.
I’d also like to publicly thank the following folks for their support through inspiration, conversation, experience and pointers to examples and resources before and during the preparation of the paper: