Thinking – It’s a Grey Matter
"If I knew where ideas came from I’d go there more often." - Leonard Cohen #DominicWilcox #DesignIndaba Often I sit in conversations and people refer to me as the creative one. They have this sense that I have the super power of creativity, that I can access with the snap of a finger. Ironically, I’m a left-brain-dominant creative, which basically means I am a literal, analytical thinker; yes, we are a rare species, but we do exist. My husband, on the other hand, is an accountant. People often label accountants as the boring, left-brained people. He is in fact a right-brain-dominant person. With him, you can literally snap your fingers and he will come up with punch lines, creative concepts, or ideas for products or ads; it’s amazing. So, now you understand why I sometimes feel thrown off my game in these conversations where people refer to me as 'the creative.' Let’s demystify this theory. According to Kendra Cherry in her article, 'Left Brain vs Right Brain Dominance: The Surprising Truth - Understanding the Myth of Left Brain and Right Brain Dominance' the concept of right-brain and left-brain thinking developed from research in the late 1960s by an American psycho-biologist Roger W. Sperry. He discovered that the human brain has two very different ways of thinking. “One (the right brain) is visual and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The other (the left brain) is verbal, and processes information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole." Sperry was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1981. She also states that today, neuroscientists know that the two sides of the brain collaborate to perform a broad variety of tasks, and that the two hemispheres communicate through the corpus callosum. So, while we actually use both sides of our brain equally, we do tend to have a more dominant side: When I looked at these lists I realised that I have characteristics from both sides: music, reading emotions, colour, images, intuition, language, logic, critical thinking, and reasoning. Another man named Ned Herrmann- known as the father of brain dominance technology- developed a four-quadrant model of cognitive preferences. He basically divided the brain into four different systems with four preferred styles: One of Herrmann's central ideas is that we should develop our 'whole-brain thinking.' We should aim to focus on strengthening our weak points by using techniques that require a particular style of thinking. By doing this we learn 'creative problem solving' where a combination of techniques is used to find a better solution for our design problems. Since I started my honours degree in UX design, my understanding of design has changed quite a bit. When you start thinking about designing for human experiences you tend to look at more than just the aesthetics of design. You start seeing problems in your everyday environment that you want to solve; I find this extremely interesting. This gives me hope that being a designer is doing more than just creating pretty things.
At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to thinking.“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” – Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO. Click here to read more. This is a very interesting read; in the Harvard Business Review, Tim Brown published an article called Design Thinking. Tim explains that design often happens at the end of the development process and is mostly focused on making products aesthetically attractive. Or it is often used in marketing and advertising when they need to enhance the brand perception. Design thinking has a simple four-step process: Today, however, companies are asking designers to rather create ideas themselves than simply making other people’s ideas pretty. Watch this short video explaining design for action; you’ll notice that they break down the process into three actions:
- Invent a future by observing the customer’s behavior.
- Test the ideas you have by prototyping, judging consumer response, and adjusting the product price or positioning if needed.
- Bring the product to life.