Design & Thinking Recap

This week was the premiere of our new film series, Fresh Cut Films. Our Director of Brand, Mike Esser and AIGA member, Hayley Hughes, both had an interest in starting a film series. After learning about the documentary film, Design & Thinking, a few our our community members independently contacted the filmmakers to inquire about setting up a showing of the film in Raleigh. And thus began our efforts to bring this week’s event to the community.

The term Design Thinking has gotten a lot of attention in the recent years. This documentary gives an introduction to how businessman, individuals, and social innovators are adopting and adapting the processes and approaches that the creative minds of designers utilize every day to create, innovate, and solve problems.

The film features an impressive group of leaders in various industries, such as Tim Brown of IDEO, David Kelley, Founder of Stanford  design school and IDEO, Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Dan Formosa, Co-Founder of Smart Design, Richard Grefé, CEO of AIGA, and many more.

IMG_0330Local Design Thinking leader and founding member of AIGA Raleigh, David Burney, CEO & Partner at New Kind, accepted our invitation to speak on the subject before the film started. David gave a really great presentation on his history with Design Thinking, what it is, and how to apply it. I really enjoyed David’s presentation had felt inspired and that now is a really great time to be a designer.

David shared that the book The Universal Traveler: A soft -systems guide to creativity, problem-solving, and the process of reaching goals, had a big influence on him. This book is really a precursor to what we now know as User Experience Design. David said that design can be thought of as the process of making dreams come true. I really liked that idea. Design adds value and it has the power to make the world a better place.

 Design Thinking in 7 Steps

David outlined the steps involved in the Design Thinking process. But he warned that Design Thinking isn’t always the answer. If best practices work, then use them. He also said that Design Thinking will fail if it is reduced to a series of steps. Culture is key in making it successful.

The Seven Steps are:

  1. Define
  2. Research
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Choose
  6. Implement
  7. Learn


The film talked about how you should fail quickly, cheaply, and often to find success. Share your ideas and progress throughout the process, don’t wait to perfect it.  The secret power of the process is that you recognize that you will learn from it. You know it won’t be perfect from the start. You know you will continue to learn and refine.

Design Thinking will create new roles and opportunities for designers

David spoke about how the design role is changing and that this creates new opportunities for designers. We know how creativity works and we understand how innovation works.

  • The Designer as Collaborator brings form and function.
  • The Designer as Facilitator helps bring stakeholders in and bring them around to accepting new ideas.
  • The Designer as Community Catalyst sparks change to improve the world around them.
  • The Designer as Marketing Guru raises awareness and guides communication.
  • The Designer as Brand Strategist preserves authenticity.
  • The Designer as Researcher uses data to understand and create what is needed.
  • The Designer as Content Creator/Curator shares ideas and inspires.
  • The Designer as Educator teaches people the power and value of design.


The Designers Mind

This film was not a “how-to” but more of a “why-to” adopt Design Thinking. Designers are problem solvers. They think about impact.  They explore different directions and are responsive and adaptive as things change. They see things and want to make them better. They ask “why?” They dissect and understand the problem before designing a solution. They understand form, content, and context. Designers are inventing the future.

I really enjoyed this event. There was a lot to like about it. The venue was great, I had never been to the Rialto, although I pass it everyday on the way to and from work, so I was glad to finally get a peek inside. People arrived early and so there was plenty of time to catch up and converse with other attendees. I liked the format of having a speaker introduce the topic of the film and then sitting back and enjoying the movie. Oh, and the smell of movie theater popcorn…mmmmm. You don’t get that watching Netflix at home, which how I typically watch movies. This event was unique in the that it fit our three core initiatives of improving design ability, proving design impact, and uniting people. Thanks so much to David Burney, and the Film Series team: Mike Esser, Hayley Hughes, Jessica Barfield, Tim Swezy, and Jonis Winger.

We want to know what design-related film would you like to see next? Email your ideas to


By Amy Lyons
Published May 11, 2013