Want to Make Better Decisions? Know the Difference between Engineering and Design Thinking

Want to Make Better Decisions? Know the Difference between Engineering and Design Thinking

There are lots of ways to think. And what you want is you want a toolkit of
ways to think and you want ways to think to be aligned with the problems you’re thinking
about. So we talk about sort of four examples of
ways of thinking. There’s engineering thinking, which is very
prevalent in modern society because we’re a technical society and engineers solve pain
problems to which there are clear repeatable solutions. Once I figure out how to build the Brooklyn
Bridge I can build it again and again; it will work every time. That’s a hard problem but it’s a tame problem. It’s well behaved. It will act tomorrow just like it acted today. Business problems you use optimization thinking. There’s no right answer to your branding,
no right answer to your market share, but you can optimize and that’s a different kind
of thinking. Researchers do analytic thinking. They thought with a premise. They think thin slice it down. They’ve got a questioning the process. Those are ways of thinking. What we call wicked problems, that’s a technical
term developed by some urban planners at Berkeley back in the ’70s, a wicked problem is one
where the criteria for success are unclear, constantly changing; you won’t know you got
the right answer until you find it; and once you found it you can’t reuse it again. You can’t rebuild New York City somewhere
else. You can’t be Dave Evans again. You can’t be somebody else again. So wicked problems are inherently human problems
and they’re messy problems and they’re trying to intersect a future that none of us knows
enough about. So how do you do that? You can’t analyze that. So you build your way for it. In design we build our way forward. And we build our way forward by sneaking up
on the future through this iteration of prototypes; get curious; ask a question; understand it;
try something; learn something; do it again, do it again until you get enough of an idea
that you can implement and actually solve the problem. We have two kinds of prototyping: engineering
prototypes and design prototypes. I should also clarify every time I say the
word design here I mean design as in designed thinking or technically human centered design. The design program at Stanford was formed
in the ’60s. It’s over 54 years old. It’s the eldest interdisciplinary program
at the university, the marriage of art, human factors and mechanical engineering. It’s actually located in the ME department
it’s where we technically work. And that design was conceived as an innovation
methodology, not as craft. Most designers in the world were trained in
the craft of design. Graphic designers can draw and lay things
out and industrial designers can shape things. Even ergonomic designers can shape things
in a particular kind of a way. Stanford designers do design thinking and
design thinking is a methodology, it’s not reliant upon craft and so it’s highly transferable. So when I talk about design prototype I mean
a design thinking prototype. Engineers prototype things to prove that that
tame solution to that team problem they figured out does in fact work correctly. I actually have a masters in thermal sciences. I haven’t used it much but there you go. I used to know how to calculate flame speed
and design a turbine engine. So if I’m going to design a turbine engine,
I’m General Electric, I’m going to run prototypes in a big soundproof cinder block box so when
it blows up people don’t get hurt and prototype one and prototype two and prototype three
are different variations on the turbine blades, on this big fan that spends 100,000 RPM and
we’re going to make sure that it works under stress conditions and if it breaks we’re going
to make a modification. We’re going to get that engineering done right. That’s engineering prototyping to prove that
the idea I had works correctly. Because I already think I know what the answer
is. A design prototype is not to prove my end
solution right, it’s to find out what I want to do in the first place. So an engineering prototype starts with a
conclusion, a design prototype starts with a curiosity. So when we do prototyping in design like what
do I want to know more about? I can either think about that or I can try
it. So this is the empirical embodied experience
of going out and trying things. So, for instance, when I was the first mouse
product manager at Apple many, many years ago we prototyped the mouse. Now the mouse was, of course, an electro mechanical
device. It had this little ball and it had Schmidt
trigger LED detectors in it that were brand-new technology and those things could be engineering
prototyped. But whether or not you like the way it felt
in your hand or rolling this thing around on the desk and then looking at the screen
over there made sense to you, we had no idea how that was going to go. We had hundreds of prototypes. One button or two? I had long and religiously ideologically animated
conversations with Larry Sessler and Steve Jobs about one button or two and modelessness
and double clicking. There’s no answer to those questions, you
have to try them. So we did lots and lots of prototypes of process
or experience and lots of prototypes of shape and we ended up with the mouse and the many
mice we have today. Couldn’t have engineered that, we had to design
that. Example of a life prototype. So there’s a woman we know, actually an example
who didn’t do much prototyping. We’ll call her Ellen. And she was an HR executive but loved Italian
food and had always dreamed of having an Italian deli. And she decided to go for it. So she went for it. So she saw this old deli that was for sale. She bought it. She quit her job. She refurbished the whole thing. She redesigned it. She laid it out. She put in a little café because she wanted
to replicate this experience she had living in Tuscany briefly. And then opened to great fanfare and was wonderfully
successful. Nobody’s successful the first time in a restaurant. It never happens, except she hated it. She loved the idea of it. She loved developing it but not running a
retail establishment. I have to hire people all the time. Most of my employees are high school kids
and they quit on you regular. I have managing inventory lists. None of the reality of running an Italian
deli and café was really delightful to her. Now the prototypes that she could have iterated,
she could have started with visiting a lot of different Italian cafés and talking to
the owner. She could have gotten a job as a bus girl
actually waiting on tables, enough to be a waiter because they sort of have to be trained,
but I can clear the tables and overhear the conversations and see if people are having
as good as time as they think they will in my place. I can try catering on a weekend. I could cater my friend’s daughter’s wedding,
that’s not a very big commitment. No capital is outlaid. Do I really want to cook that much? Lots of ways to try, try, try, try, try before
you jump off the cliff or buy the farm and that will give you feedback about what the
reality really is. What prototypes and design do are they allow
you to ask interesting questions, learn things, expose your assumptions and let you sneak
up on the future. So prototyping is a great way to go through
your life because nobody knows the answer.

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80 Replies to “Want to Make Better Decisions? Know the Difference between Engineering and Design Thinking”

  1. Absolutely magnetic speaker, although the message that was trying to be conveyed wasn't very clear to me. Didn't know what I was supposed to get out of this video

  2. somehow, listening to this guy makes me feel like i wasted my life as a servant rather than going to school to be an engineer

  3. This seems to be another example of someone assigning very specific definitions to broad terminology in order to sell books.

  4. Based on some of the recent speakers I was considering unsubscribing from this channel but this guy has changed my mind.

  5. awesome video. a lot to say especially the way he describes thinking outside the box. tries to get into the nitty gritty of the box. like he says how to experiment learn innovate teach too. i say it many times ill say it again we live in the age of enlightenment. now to get ourselves a proper compass.

  6. I don't know about that problem classification. I mean, you can't build new York city again similarly to why you can't build a big bridge again. But, the could be, for both problems, a set of axioms that could lead you to take the right decision.

  7. As an engineer, the attempt to bin engineering like he does could only be done by a non-engineer. Most of what I do is what he calls design, to which I then apply business (optimization) to, and then the 'engineering' at the end. I do work in a special place where almost everything is a single-purposed, single-designed, prototype though. I dislike his theory.

  8. Great video. I have to ask though, was Dave Evans have anything to do with the "hockey puck" circular mouse that Apple created? I've used that for years as an example of form getting prioritized over function resulting in an epic fail.

  9. This would be interesting and helpful, except it has nothing to do with decision making per se. I mean, first I need to decide what to do and if a prototype is needed… so how the fuck can I decide that? How can I decide to click the dislike button? this video is no help.

  10. Writing music falls in this category. You have an idea but not sure where to go with it. So many influences can direct me or I can just keep pushing till something comes up. I play something different but it works. I'm happy.

  11. This is what I was thinking about a few days ago.
    I don't have a single passion that I want to pursue but a few interests. I keep telling myself to try everything and see if something makes me want to do it more often or if I can see myself doing it for a long time. I always thought this kind of experimentation will lead me nowhere, instead it might confuse me even more. But after watching this video I think I might go ahead with experimenting.

  12. there aren't going to be a lot of these product placement 'Think Bigs' are there? I mean, this was handy, but now, I'm less impressed…
    I don't want to, 'be over you'

  13. The first mouse I had, had two wheels with no ball in the under side. I don't like those over-hyped kind of made-up/"brandized" definitions of common concepts as something new and revolutionary. It makes it seem like everyone before the 70s or so were robots who always started with conclusions in mind, never innovated. Perhaps all inventions (of engineering) before then were given by aliens. I like the stress on not starting with the conclusion in mind and just trying to prove it, though. But "exploration of possibilities" and "invention" are more clear phrasings for that than design thinking. Design is just a synonym for "project" (actually, of "drawing"), does not necessarily entail a freer exploration of possibilities or invention.

  14. types of thinking/problems:
    1. engineering – clear, repeatable solns
    2. business – optimization
    3. analytic – used in research; premise, slice, questioning process
    4. wicked – criteria for success unclear & constantly changing; will know what's right answer only when you find it, & answer won't be reusable; human problems, messy problems; find soln via iterations, trial & error till you get an idea

    types of prototypes:
    1. engineering – starts with conclusion, solution-oriented
    2. design – starts with curiosity, user-oriented

    Prototypes in design similar to minimum viable product

  15. i really like this channel but i think a lot of speakers are salesmen for bs. all i got from this is designers come up with non positive ideas( bs) and engineers make things that work. putting a spin on the obvious doesnt change the fact that the engineers contribution is the significant part of the job.

  16. Reality testing assumptions is crucial. Small tests are a great way to do that. Ready a book about this topic, making decisions in general. I forget the title but the framework they put out is W.R.A.P. Widen your options Reality test your assumptions Attain emotional distance Prepare to be wrong. really helpful stuff

  17. how do you catch a unique rabbit? You Nique up on it. How do you catch a tame rabbit? The tame way….so how do you solve a unique problem? and a tame problem? Uh huh

  18. Engineering is like in the movie Modern Times of Mr. Chaplin. Human problem solving is like in the movie The Kid…

  19. This just blew my mind! The fact that you can use design thinking around your life like Dave mentioned is fascinating to me!

  20. Good talk. One aspect I am exploring is that there are many hidden interest in wicked problems. I believe your approach does a great job of bringing them to the surface.

  21. This is the small steps approach but sometimes it is not realist. Example should I move to this country ? Checking as a tourist is not enough you need to work there to have a real idea so take a big steps with high cost. You cannot cross a river halfway.

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