Is It Time to Rethink the T-Shaped Designer?

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Comment by ruggero on October 9, 2010 at 20:45
a short post about the overestimation of the service designer:
Comment by John Dilworth on September 29, 2010 at 8:34
The idea of the T-shaped designer is great, as long as you are working with multiple individuals, and you have a broad depth of experience in a a number of areas, and especially in the areas where you need that deep expertise.

I'd like to think that the main thing that separates the design disciplines is the knowledge of materials. The graphic designer knows paper, ink, 2-D form, and typography, industrial designers knows 3-D form, plastics, metals and wood, and architects need to know 3-D space, buildings, and how to work with concrete, brick, and steel.

I come from a graphic design background, and I know for a fact, that I will make a horrible architect because I just don't have the knowledge of the materials that I'd need to know to be successful in that discipline.

I also think that the same thing happens with individuals who think that they can be successful in service design, or another design discipline just because they both have "design" attached to their name. Whatever the case, you've got to learn the materials of your trade. If your materials are organizations, people, processes, and services, and you don't have a deep knowledge of that - you just can't be successful. If nobody on your whole team has depth in the necessary area, there's even less chance of being successful.

If your "T" is deep in an area that isn't relevant, maybe you need to become an triple "TTT" designer, with some depth in all the areas you plan to work in.

I think this is what the article is getting at.
Comment by ruggero on September 28, 2010 at 22:21
interesting article, it also explain why it's so hard explain people what's a service designer.
But i desagree at some points, as i wrote here, my opinion is that Design Thinking is all about mashup and contamination and you can't have a great remix skill if you have strong specialization and if you are not used to the wide and open View, changing often your focuses and your interests. Someone said that Design Thinking is like a glue between different discipline, i agree with it and i can't imagine a service designer or a social innovator who instead to be generalised is strongly specialized on few fields.
I see Design Thinkers as people with great curiosity who have a base of knowledge in a lot of fields plus a deep knowledge of the project process (and how govern it) and through these things they can find NEW CONNECTIONS and make the innovation.
I think there is a lack of a consolidated metodology in design thinking and service design, but i don't think we still need the "strong vertical stack of capabilities" mentioned in the article : i'm a service designer but at the university i studied product design too and i learnt how project, how to do research, how to bechmarking, how communicate through picture, video, sketch or graphic maps, how to generate concepts,... and now i adapt this skills and this tools to the Service Design. Product Design and Service Design do the same things: projects. And they both work on the first and middle phase of the process and exactly as the product designer often need an engineer to made the product possible, also the service designer need the help of some more technical skilled people to made the service possible.

And i totally disagree with the "Even the most cocksure designer would admit that there are some problems that are best left to others more able to tackle - pension reform, for example"
there are tons of exemples that confute it, first to my mind: if Swatch didn't enter the automotive market probably we still don't have a 2 seat car (or not so good at least). I don't think i'm cocksure cause i never thought to solve problems only with my designer, instead, i'm convinced i can do a little piece of the final solution.
A designer thinker isn't a super-human-problem-solver, but he's a facilitator in the problem solving process.

sorry for the bad english, apparently i've not fully assimilated the englishspeak-skill... workin on :)
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on September 27, 2010 at 19:12
Hi Luis,
Thanks for the post :-) I am curious about your thoughts on the article.


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