Dogma is comforting, and in this business it goes by many names.

So says Erika Hall of Mule Design in her recent Medium piece: Design Sprints Are Snake Oil.

What promised to be a vicious takedown of the institution of agile methods like design thinking, was really a takedown of the idea of design sprints as the One True God.

Agile processes can be useful. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have taken hold in business to the extent that they have.

The problem is that not all problems can be solved by the same silver-bullet process:

… many methods start out as legitimate tools to promote better, clearer thinking faster and end up as activities substituted for thinking.

Yes, sprints can be useful. As can Design Thinking and agile processes and all of the rest.

We teach them at the Brandcenter because they are useful and students need to have an understanding of how it all works.

But they are only one arrow in the quiver.

Let’s use them that way.

Designing for the system rather than the individual

Design thinking has grown from tool to religion. I’ve watched as companies were able to transform themselves by embracing design thinking. But it’s not always the right answer. Not everyone needs to have the word designer in their job title. Sometimes I wonder what actual designers should call themselves now that the word design has been rendered bankrupt by a hundred-thousand MBAs armed with post-its and an unholy hunger for human empathy.

In Beyond The Cult Of Human-Centered Design, Co.Design argues for a need to go beyond human-centered design. They propose humanity centered design, which sounds like a shallow semantic, but is different in that it takes into account the big picture. The world beyond the user, the systems made of users, the scope of time, life beyond empathy.

Instead of merely asking How might we, maybe we should also be asking At what cost.