Design Thinking – Integrative Thinking
Kyle Maxey posted on November 16, 2012 |

Iterative Thinking is the most difficult part of the Design Thinking Methodology to add to your Product Concept Design cycle.  But that difficultly brings with it massive potential. So, what is Integrative Thinking?

Integrative Thinking is the ability to take two opposing ideas and produce a creative solution that is union of the two, but superior to both.   

Now if you’re thinking that what you just read was a little bit mind-boggling, then you’re right.  F. Scott Fitzgerald once said "the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Well, Integrative Thinking asks designers and engineers to take this one step further, but you don’t have to be a genius to use it effectively.  Here are a few keys to successfully using Integrative Thinking.

How to Effectively Use Integrative Thinking

1. Look Deeply – Don’t believe that what you know about a problem is the one and only reality of a situation.  Opposing views should not be thrown away, they should be leveraged. Whatever your problem might be, there is an unseen solution.

2. Be Open to Complexity – Let’s face it, simplicity is desirable.  However, simplicity can get in the way of finding an innovative solution in Product Development.  Embrace the complexity of your problem and mine every angle to build new ideas.

3. Give Yourself Time – Like most things that are worth doing, Integrative Thinking can take time. Give your products an advantage by setting aside time for research and thought.

The next time you’re designing a product, remember, you don’t have to compromise one part of your design for another. Using the principles of Integrative Thinking will help you create more innovate products.

In our final segment we’ll take a look at Experimentalism.

In the video below Vince Penman and Allison Toepperwein give and overview of how Integrative Thinking and Experimentalism are used in Design Thinking.

This article is part of a series on Design Thinking that includes Empathy, Collaboration and Experimentalism.


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