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Design Thinking In Fast growing African Countries (SA)

This realm of design is where creatures of design try by all means necessary to alleviate/better human interaction (User Experience), cause traffic and come up with feasible business solutions and not turning a blind eye to aesthetic (User Interface). Usually this creatures are referred to as Customer Experience Design, or UX/UI designers.

Fields like ergonomics have played a crucial role in birthing Design thinking, as it stresses on bettering efficiency and comfort in a working environment, the only slight variance between  these two fields is that one focus on physical amendments while the other does both the analogue and digital systems. UX/UI designers employ design language/thinking to decomplexify data into a more apprehensible information to be used for improving services and this is also known as Human Centred Design

Image Credits: google, designer unknown.


This agile system of working is currently being used by design and tech firms while other industry are slowly starting to understand it.  Companies, like ‘IDEO’ and ‘Google’  employ design thinking to creative timeless and workable products which not only a narcissistic “great idea” but involves the point of view of the user or customer. Agile working system (Design thinking) in summary is all about:

The venture to solving a problem is not a station but a process, meaning that, a product for it to remain relevant (not only to the user but the season) requires a constant revisit/ideation.


- No idea is wrong, thus birthing an infinite number of invaluable ideas (possibly profitable)


- Avoiding Technical Debt, which is creating a product which will later be useless or irrelevant or worse, not profitable.


- Saves time and resources, as this process focuses on playfulness and utilizing whatever resources available to come to a resolution. This is mostly explored in the prototyping and ideation phase.


- Pays attention to detail, not focusing on perfection but answering a call/need of a customer.

Figure 3: Interaction Design Foundation, designer unknown. 2019



What does Design Thinking mean for South Africa?



·         Industries in South Africa employ the logical side of the brain, which means no empathy and not apathy. It would be beneficial to move to utilizing both the right (focused on facts and rigidness) and left (focuses on creativity and open mindedness) brain, this mean translating from goal oriented working methods to “Super Hero” working methods/ethics. Helping alleviate problems of service delivery (for users and employees) vs. Profit/aimless ambitions. 

·         More problems solves, more convenient services, the more profit or value creation.

·         Accountability, there would be no uncertainty when answers are needed to a particular dilemma.

·         Respect and better understanding of design/multimedia/arts. Most executives in South Africa wouldn’t care about the value design in their businesses.

·         Possible redirection or redefinition of company visions and missions of an ideal future or way of working.

·         Avoid technical debt (stresses on accountability and profit making), this is a sustainable way of thinking as business, organisation or government.

·         South Africa could be one of the first African county to pioneer life changing, timeless and lucrative futuristic/technological interventions.

·         Bettering or taking service delivery to a whole new dimension in contrast to the status quo. 

·         Cutting of cost (redefinition of roles in organisation/societies, possible reshuffles and replacements)

·         Attention given to value based driven projects (educate gatekeepers to appoint employees/excos in a more thorough manner)

·         Economic Boom (not only consumers of the world’s inventions but participators), possible shift to the 1st world considering our potential and history. This means, gaining attention of investors.

·         And, we could start asking more important questions.  

Where we need it the most and how it could applied?

It would be derogatory to mention that, a majority of industries in South Africa need to adopt this way of thinking, considering milestones achieved without it, although it wold be factual to state that the fields I am about to list could change our lives and the perspective of solving problems. Industries that need Design Thinking are namely:



Branding/Design/Ad Agencies – this could mean employees (which are mostly creative in this case), customers and clients would stress less about getting value for their money but about taking the careers and business to whole new feasible and empathetic dimensions.


Educational Institutions – since design thinking focuses on saving time and convenience, the government would be less concerned about unemployment and youth/skills development but investing more money and energy on true talent (developed from primary stage), the relation between psychology and anthropology and the future.


Medial Institutions – momentarily the medical field focuses on treating symptoms and not actual diseases. Thus, design thinking could be used to better ergonomics, diet and alleviate the overall death toll. This means, getting more investment and valuable human capital as they would feel equally values. Both patience and employees could enjoy a whole new environment. Design thinking focuses on solving problems consistently and not only answering a need once but improving the answer.


Banking Systems - Banks could create products (if not improve) that teaches and not steals by being human centred and forever prototyping to come resolutions.


Law enforcement – regardless the possible decline in crime by using this system, this could mean fair/sober justice. It is not only about law enforcement but creating a utopia for everyone in South Africa.


Agriculture and Food – this could birth more innovation to decrease/end poverty and unemployment. We no longer have a long lifespan as a nation because we have adopted unhealthy foreign diets and moved from life giving foods. Design thinking would help scientist and hospitality industries to be more instrumental in the health of the nation. A healthy body means a healthy and sober mind.


And, Politics to mentions a few – momentarily a whole half percent of the nation knows less about politics neither the less about voting consciously. Design thinking would help do away with unfair voting systems and civilians voting without knowing exactly why they are voting and who they are voting for. Design thinking would force the electoral commissions to educate voters about the leaders and doing it fairly/in a dignified manner.   


Science and Research – more sustainable and user friendly innovation could be birthed, and more genuine talent/skill could emerge. Caring not only about being great but doing great is the key.


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