Should you have a design attitude?

The job of a manager is to make decisions and solve problems. However, most managers are limited to only calculating the best option out of a given set of alternatives (decision attitude) without creatively thinking of new and better alternatives (design attitude).

Therefore, the authors argue that there is a need of a design attitude in management practice and education. Present management practices and educations are suffering from a limited and narrow vocabulary of decision-making to drive an expensive and embracing vocabulary of design out of circulation. The decision attitude entails an attitude whereby the manager is portrayed as a decision maker, one that has to make a decision between a set of alternatives. This is a passive view of the decision maker as a problem solver. The design attitude on the other hand is occupied with finding the best solution possible.

A design attitude views each project as an opportunity for invention that includes a questioning of basic assumptions and a resolve to leave the world a better place than how its found, in other words it’s about changing an existing situation into a more preferred one. The element that should be added to the image of managers is one where they are seen as idea generators who give form to new possibilities with a well-developed vocabulary of design. Managers as form-givers understand that the design of better products, processes and services are their core responsibility. Design is not being concerned about how things are, but how they might be. With this, a decision attitude begins by questioning the way the problem represented, instead of accepting a default representation of it.

Herbert Simon suggests developing a design that is always able to change and thus avoiding irreversible designs, and leaving possibilities for the future. He also suggests that designs could be more humanly satisfying as well as economically viable when managers would strive to open themselves and have a lot of diverse experiences. He argues that good designers are aware of their own vocabulary and the impact of it on their work.

The authors state that designers who explore different vocabularies could yield more creative problem representations and this could enable the development of better designs. It is noted that a design attitude is not only about creativity. Design is in a sense larger than creativity and it provides a context for creativity by channeling it towards humanly satisfying purposes.


The more turbulent and chaotic the environment of business becomes, the likely that you are already dealing with your best ideas about the situation you face and the alternatives open to you. In these conditions, something else is needed – something that will help put better ideas and alternatives on the table for analytic consideration and quantitative assessment. A design attitude towards problem solving can do that.

This is a summary of an article that was published by HBR and written by Richard BolandFred CollopyClick here for the article 

 Question: What are your thoughts about the design attitude?

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