Design Thinking for the 21st Century – An Essential Skill

We live in a digital-driven world with continuous and rapid advances in technology. As such, understanding how to design by harnessing the power of new technologies is an essential skill that professionals need to develop in order to achieve their truest potential.  Careful and considerate solution design should focus on driving value and powering productiveness with the lowest possible waste. This type of approach is known as Design thinking, a fundamental methodology in which technology is selected based on the capabilities required for the final product.  In the design thinking paradigm, technology is created by first considering its final state and then adding the required functions to support it.

Refocusing Design on the Real Needs of the Business

Trying to deliver on the specific business expectations while meeting extremely demanding technical requirements is an increasingly common challenge. Over-zealous engineering, even in its finest form, can lose sight of real business needs.

Regardless of the technical complexities of a system or its size, if the end result does not provide value back to the business, it can result in unproductive business processes, lost hours, lost money, and implementation failure.

To avoid failures in system design, it’s imperative to consider both the functional and non-functional needs of the business equally. In doing this, you will design a system that helps the organization achieve the most value with the least possible waste.

Look to Domino’s Pizza for an everyday example of design thinking. The executives of that company stepped back and considered their business. Customers were rating their pizza poorly even though all of the technology and ingredients were there. Famously, they realized their process was backward: you don’t start with a pizza and sell it; you start with what people like and make it. This led them to a drastic change in their business, which ultimately resulted in their stock increasing and ratings improving.

How to Achieve a Design That’s Driven by Both Functional and Non-Functional Needs

New system designers should always be driven by the end goal.

There are many critical points of design — and a highly structured design processes can help guide any new design from concept to implementation. Meticulous attention to detail can ensure that the critical points of the design are captured from the onset.

Once a thorough comprehension of the structured process for system design is established, both new and experienced designers will feel better equipped and have a proven method to capture the critical points which are required by the organization.

The act of uncovering these needs at the very start of the process can make a significant difference to the end result. It ultimately determines the overall success of the system and its ability to meet with the current and future business demands. From the onset, it is important that you are:

  • Asking the right questions
    • “Who is the real end user?”
    • “What is a typical usage pattern?”
  • Following the correct system design process for modern-day applications
    • Process – What key capabilities do we need
    • Solution – What type of technology is needed
    • Technology – which specific technology should we use
  • Listening to the responses
    • Don’t inject your own bias onto answers
  • Confirming the details
  • Keeping open communications
    • Be sure that you consider everyone’s answer and don’t suppress a key area of feedback.
  • Understanding their business

Sample Case Study

Building a Solution with AI and IoT
In the IoT Data Management Solution Design Course, we review a case study and produce an accompanying system design.

One of the key takeaways comes from understanding why the business cares about this project, along with what it needs to achieve to deliver true value. This is typically performed by realizing the impact the project will have, without necessarily being technical in nature.   

This course will cover the following core concepts:

  • Process Design Walkthrough
  • Understanding the Requirements
  • Business Value
  • Implementation

This course offers a more holistic approach to design thinking and proves that great engineering and system designs go far beyond just technology. It’s important to take the time to consider what the business cares about, including fully gathering the requirements from clients based on the information you need, rather than the information they have.

It will also uncover key skills to help you with technical discovery, systems architecture, technology selection, and implementation.

  • How to Learn
  • How to Research
  • How to Design

All these elements need to be undertaken effectively to achieve a successful project outcome.

By failing to consider just one of these three components, the longevity of any success will be limited. Knowing how to learn, conduct research, and design a system based on the outcomes of research is essential to design thinking for the 21st century.

You will learn the importance of dynamics, flexibility, and suitability as they relate to the needs of your users.

Course Outcome:

Becoming a great system designer takes practice. It takes time and an appreciation for the bigger picture and long-term needs of the users. You need to create more than something that simply ticks a box, and you want to design a system you can be proud to put your name to.

You will learn what it takes to elevate your system design capabilities far beyond those of engineers who are simply creating acceptable solutions that may not withstand the test of time. Additionally, you will learn how to adopt a design structure and a set of procedures that help you to be superior to your counterparts. More importantly, this course will help you and your clients surpass expectations on all levels.

To learn more about Calculated Systems, visit: https://www.calculatedsystems.com/

Chris Gambino

Written by

Chris Gambino

Chris has been focused on the big data ecosystem for years. Starting with simple databases he focused on Hadoop for several years before switching to a cloud-first approach. An Author of "Nifi for Dummies", his approach involves a holistic evaluation of the problem before assigning technology. https://www.calculatedsystems.com/


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