Problems induced by continuing population growth and its pressure on resources and environment have reached a stage where serious concern must be given to the processes of decision making being used by governmental and institutional leaders. Science thinking is frequently unheard or unheeded, and design thinking is not engaged at all.

Design thinking, as a complement to science thinking, embodies a wide range of creative characteristics as well as a number of other special qualities of distinct value to decision makers. In advisory roles, properly prepared design professionals could make substantial contributions to a process now dominated by political and economic views. This paper examines the nature of design thinking as it differs from other ways of thinking. A model for comparing fields is introduced, and a number of characteristics of creative individuals in general and designers in particular are presented.

Preparing designers for participation in policy planning will be a challenge for design education. Meeting the challenge will require new understanding, an extended range of design tools, and concerted support from the design professions to demonstrate the value of design thinking to decision making at the highest levels.

This paper is a keynote speech given October 21, 2005, at the Life and Design in the Future Conference held at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2005 in Gwangju City, Korea. Figures are the slides from the presentation.

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