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Design Thinking 101

Nov 5, 2019

Welcome to the Design Thinking 101 podcast! I'm Dawan Stanford, your host. Today I'll be interviewing Maurício Manhães and talking about his design position at Savannah College of Art and Design, his work at the Service Design Network and as the group leader at the Design Academic Task Force.

In this episode, we talk about the crisis that caused Maurício to shift into service design, how service designers are learning their craft, and his work to create service design curriculum for non-designers.

We’ll explore Maurício's 15-year background in IT and marketing, and his reaction to having a failed project. He couldn't figure out why his project was received poorly by his client until he discovered that he didn't understand the people he was designing for. This was when he found design thinking.

Maurício was intrigued by how service design was based on a complex and systemic approach to social technical design. Through this revelation, he understood his approach to design and problem-solving was flawed. At this point, he decided to return to school. He received a Master's Degree in Knowledge Management, and then a Ph.D, and he then started teaching service design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Since Maurício joined SCAD, their program has gained over two dozen students, making their program one of the largest in the world. Students come with curious minds, wanting to know how they can involve stakeholders in the design process and have a better perspective on the social technical design context.

Maurício talks about how he and his department at SCAD are adding new courses pertaining to design to enhance the degree, including how innovation is understood in an adaptive system. The program is very demanding, resulting in two-thirds of the program's students being hired one year before they graduate.

This episode also offers a look at providing the perspective of the complex and active systems of design thinking to non-designers. Maurício explains how he conveys this complex concept to creators without a design background. He also delves into the ethics of service design, the illusion of being able to change a person’s behavior, and common issues first year designers have when they start their career.



Maurício Manhães is a Professor of Service Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design and an Associate Design Researcher at Livework and the group leader of the Service Design Network Academic Task Force. In 2015, he obtained a Doctoral degree in Knowledge Management with a focus on service innovation at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil in partnership with the Koeln International School of Design in Germany with the thesis "Innovativeness and Prejudice: Designing a Landscape of Diversity for Knowledge Creation." In addition to his professorship, he works on consultancy projects and conducts workshops, courses, and lectures on design, design research, and service innovation worldwide.


In This Episode

[01:10] Maurício’s journey from IT project management into design thinking.

[04:50] He gives background on SCAD department and his role in this department.

[06:54] SCAD department and how their cohort has grown.
[11:16] Curriculum changes to the complexity of the design program at SCAD.

[12:34] Maurício talks about why they are adding complex adaptive systems to the curriculum at SCAD.

[14:09] Two-thirds of students are hired one year before graduation.

[16:06] How service design theory and service design logic prepares students for design at high levels.

[17:53] How Maurício is bridging the gap between learning service design and the perspective of the complex and active systems of design thinking.

[22:24] Teaching service design to non-designers.

[27:02] Ethics of service design and how they play out among non-designers.

[38:13] Common threads on challenges that are faced by first year designers.

[40:41] The early days of design thinking. 


Links and Resources

Maurício on Twitter

Savannah College of Art and Design

Maurício on LinkedIn

Maurício on the Service Design Network

Maurício’s presentation on the Three Overarching Perspectives for Service Design at SDGC18, and the presentation slide deck: Three Overarching Perspectives for Service Design

Interview with Mauricio on the Design Decode website