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  • Pranava Technologies

Design Thinking for Business – Thank You John Arnold

Updated: May 11, 2020

We can trace the origins of Design Thinking back to the 1950’s, when John E Arnold was one of the first to coin the phrase. Referring to the ‘cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts are developed’, design thinking is also associated with prescriptions for the innovation of products and services within business and social contexts.

Whilst we can probably credit David Kelley of DKD Design for being one of the first to link design thinking to the business world we must not forget the advanced and still current thinking that John Arnold first applied back in the 1950’s.

Indeed, in 1959 John Arnold published Creative Engineering in which he distinguished four areas of design thinking: novel functionality, i.e. solutions that satisfy a novel need or solutions that satisfy an old need in an entirely new way; higher performance levels of a solution; lower production costs, and increased scalability.

Let’s consider that again….

· Solutions satisfying an old need in a new way (Innovation)

· Higher performance levels (Improvement)

· Lower production costs (Productivity)

· Increased scalability (Efficiency)

Sixty-One years later and isn’t this what organisations across the globe are still seeking? Doesn’t this tell us just how forward-thinking John Arnold, who sadly departed well before his time at the age of just 50, really was.

And this is one of the reasons why at Pranava Technologies we have adapted the Design Thinking model into our very own version, we call this Run Better.

Of course, we take very little credit for our Run Better model, the credit goes to John E Arnold, who taught at both MIT and Stanford, and who was described by his Stanford colleagues as:

“an uncommon man...a visionary thinker who set trends in design education".

Thank you John E Arnold.

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Aug 27, 2021

Your appreciation of design history speaks well of your firm. Your generous acknowledgment of Arnold's foundational contributions to creative engineering and comprehensive design reflects a deep understanding of the processes involved.


May 14, 2020

Fascinating article, thanks for the history lesson!

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