Human centered Design is as popular as never before. Companies across the world are creating spaces, positions & teams wearing the HCD colors. I am one of those people - but independent and unbound. I am deeply convinced that Human Centered Design in it´s broad and colorful differences has established practices that are critical to tackle the challenges our society will need to deal with in the 21st century and probably beyond.
With increasingly tight global networks we as a society face not only networked solutions but also networked problems. This means we need to tackle increasingly complex problems. Whilst the 20th century has provided us with a broad range of professions and professionals, their insights are more often than not no longer sufficient to address problems unless they are being combined. Problems which ignore the boundaries of communities of practice & knowledge and therefore no longer fit the organizational silos we created in pursuit of heightened efficiency. Human Centered Design is one way of bringing together people of diverse background to understand, frame and begin to solve problems that go beyond the field of expertise any single human being could hold in his brains.
The above notwithstanding one of the things that human centered design falls short of is a clear theoretical framework. Such a framework would make it more accessible to people who are new to the field or want to check the validity of claims brought forward about HCD under the light of scientific scrutiny. It definitely is not easy to create this theoretical superstructure - but worth trying, at least as far as I am concerned.
Since one of the versions of human centered design that have matured over the last years is Design Thinking, many think of Human Centered Design as "a fun way of doing things”. Whilst I cannot deny I enjoy design thinking as a process - the more important part to me is, that it is a way of working that actually allows you to tackle specific types of complex problems - and can be taken seriously at that. This is why I am trying to call out the nonsense that sometimes is done under the banner of design thinking and help people and organizations to use the tools that have been developed, where appropriate.