Some design principles

November 29, 2009

I had the great pleasure of spending a few days last week with some eminent designers and design thinkers as part of a World Economic Forum event in Dubai. We were participating as one of over 70 WEF Global Agenda Councils consisting of experts from around the world studying how to improve global institutions. As the Global Agenda Council on Design we felt that one of our greatest contributions might be to help other councils embed design thinking in their deliberations. We created a set of design principles that we felt might be a useful guide and I am listing them here:

Design is an agent of change that enables us to understand complex changes and problems, and to turn them into something useful. Tackling today’s global challenges will require radical thinking, creative solutions and collaborative action. Here is a set of principles identified by the Global Agenda Council on Design that could help your Council to develop ideas and strategies to address the complex problems facing us all.

Transparent: Complex problems require simple, clear and honest solutions.

Inspiring: Successful solutions will move people by satisfying their needs giving meaning to their lives, and raising their hopes and expectations.

Transformational: Exceptional problems demand exceptional solutions that may be radical and even disruptive.

Participatory: Effective solutions will be collaborative, inclusive and developed with the people who will use them.

Contextual: No solution should be developed or delivered in isolation but should instead recognize the social, physical and information systems it is part of.

Sustainable: Every solution needs to be robust, responsible and designed with regard to its long-term impact on the environment and society.

What is missing? What would you change?

We are interested in distributing these principles further if there is interest.

The members of the council on design who contributed to the principles are:

Paola Antonelli, Carl Bass, Craig Branigan, Tim Brown, Brian Collins, Hilary Cottam, Kigge Mai Hivid, Larry Keeley, Chris Luebkeman, John Maeda, Mokena Makeka, Toshiko Mori, Kohei Nishiyama, Bruce Nussbaum, Alice Rawsthorn, Sudhir Sharma, Jens Martin Skibstead, Milton Tan, Arnold Wasserman.