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Design Thinking 101

Sep 18, 2018

I’m joined by Martin Dominguez Ball, a graphic designer who teaches design thinking at Fordham University. He’s also the cofounder at WOMB Service Design Lab. We’ll talk about what works for students in the design thinking classroom, how Martin has helped people wrestle through working visually, and the connections between design thinking, art, and making, as a teacher and practitioner.

Martin, who hails from Uruguay, had a long path into design thinking. As an entrepreneur, he owned a business for over a decade, and mentions that he applied design thinking to this business without really knowing what it was. His passion, though, was being an artist. He eventually decided to close the company and pursue the things important to him: education and art. Tune in to the episode to learn how this process evolved into him teaching his design thinking course.

In the process of getting his degrees, Martin developed a love for academia. Design thinking gave a framework to what he had been doing intuitively, and he fell in love with the methodology and method. You’ll hear him explain how this methodology gave him a different perspective on business and allowed him to get ahead of the curve by listening to what people were saying.

Martin explains that he has observed that people often have strong assumptions of what the problem is, and getting rid of those assumptions can be a challenge and a point of frustration. He finds that teaching design thinking involves guiding students to think beyond the first or fastest idea or solution, and bringing them back to the drawing board over and over.

Tune in to hear more about all these topics, as well as the excitement of seeing students understand the reason for certain methodologies, why design thinking isn’t the ideal answer for every problem that comes up, the value in prototyping (even if students are skeptical at the beginning), and the powerful effect that Martin’s eclectic background has on his approach to teaching design thinking.

Learn More About Today’s Guest

Martin Dominguez Ball

Martin Dominguez Ball on LinkedIn

Martin Dominguez Ball on Facebook

Martin Dominguez on Behance

In This Episode

[01:17] — Martin introduces himself, and talks about his background and pathway to where he is now in design.

[03:58] — We hear more about Martin’s experience of falling in love with design thinking.

[07:15] — How has Martin’s approach and understanding evolved since the first moment of connection with design thinking? Martin answers, and talks about where people struggle with problem-finding.

[11:14] — Martin talks about how people react to coming back to the original or needing to reassess their original assumptions.

[14:24] — We hear about students’ “ah-hah” moments that Martin has seen, and feedback that students have given on how the class has changed things for them.

[17:16] — How did Martin’s design thinking course come about? He answers, then elaborates on his “where does it fit?” question.

[20:10] — Martin talks about whether the conflict between service-dominant logic and goods-dominant logic is involved in the conflict that he has just described.

[23:23] — We hear about some things that have helped Martin to teach and lead people through a design process, and how the rest of the faculty has reacted to his course.

[25:22] — Martin provides more information about the design lab that he and his wife run.

[28:15] — What would Martin’s advice be to an entrepreneur who is interested in developing a new service or improving an existing service?

[30:11] — We hear about where Martin sees design thinking going in the next few years.

[33:38] — Dawan shares some of his own thoughts about explaining how design thinking works as a way of moving from problem-situation to solution-situation.

[36:42] — Martin talks about the value of prototyping.

[39:13] — We hear more about how Martin helps people work more visually and see the value in doing so.

[43:37] — What are Martin’s thoughts on how his mix of influences affects the way he approaches design thinking?
[46:54] — Martin shares some resources that he has found particularly useful.

[49:04] — Martin points out that he is constantly learning from his students, and relates this to his experience teaching guitar.

[51:39] — Where can people learn more about Martin, his work, and his practice?


Links and Resources (Dawan Stanford)

Martin Dominguez Ball

Martin Dominguez Ball on LinkedIn

Martin Dominguez Ball on Facebook

Martin Dominguez on Behance

Service Design Network


Service Design in the Business Curriculum: Dispatches From the Field by Joan Ball, PhD and Martin Dominguez (Touchpoint article)

IBM Design Thinking Field Guide