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A design-led approach to transforming wicked problems into design situations and opportunities

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This article argues that using a design-led approach is highly beneficial when tackling complex problems to transform ambiguity into actionable design briefs and solution opportunities. This is evidenced by way of an ongoing project with a large public-sector organization. Northumbria University’s School of Design academic experts use design-led approaches to innovation that promotes ‘creative fusion’ between diverse stakeholders in order to tackle ‘wicked problems’. The authors continue this work as part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council/ European Regional Development Fund-funded programme entitled Creative Fuse North East (CFNE), involving five regional universities, of which the project discussed here is a part. The main objectives of CFNE are to develop and deploy approaches to innovation that apply skills from creative graduates to benefit the wider creative economy, address barriers to innovation and promote growth and sustainability within and without the Creative, Digital and IT sector (CDIT). The authors propose that to do this it is vital to convert stakeholders into co-creation activists empowered with the creative confidence and tools required to speculate about uncertain futures.
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Keywords: co-creation; creative confidence; design catalysts; frames; innovation; multidisciplinary

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Design, Business & Society is a peer-reviewed scholarly publication for business leaders, managers, policy-makers, service-providers and design experts. It examines the complex nature of design and design thinking in relation to its effective application to solving real-world problems across commercial and broader societal contexts. It aims to promote cross-disciplinary design research which engages specialist and generalist stakeholders via qualitative, quantitative, visual or applied research methodologies, ultimately leading to tangible implications for current practice or clear direction for future work.
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