designers’ personality types

We all think of ourselves as different, but most people think artists and designers are categorically different. If it’s not appearance issues, such as clothes or hair, then it’s a designer’s outlook, personality or the way they think.

So what are the personality traits of a designer? Michael Roller looked into that. He administered the well-known Myers Briggs personality test to a group of designers and published the result. The test compares things like introversion vs. extraversion and feeling vs. thinking. Two big trends are clear: Nearly 70% of the respondents were “judging” types and 85% were “intuiting” types. That’s exactly the opposite of the general public, who skew towards “sensing” and “perceiving”.

As Fast Company magazine blogger Cliff Kuang says, “According to the test, those that “intuit” rather than “sense”, tend to focus on context and future developments, rather than simply the data at hand. Meanwhile, those that “judge” rather than “perceive”, tend to see the world in terms of discrete problems that can be structured and cracked, rather than as a series of casual, open-ended possibilities.”

We were all artists as kids. Not only did we create art, we were also proud of it. We primarily thought in a visual way. But somewhere in the middle of elementary school our focus began to shift from visual, spatial thinking to verbal, linear thinking. The end result is a very left-brain dominant society. Kit Hinrichs, partner, (until recently), at the international design firm Pentagram, said designers keep looking at the whole picture. “I think this is the reason why designers are so welcome in the boardrooms of corporations. Businesspeople have been kind of brainwashed out of solving problems in anything other than a linear approach. But sometimes, we need both sides of the brain to solve problems. Which is why I find that there are times I can go into a boardroom with guys who have degrees from 12 universities I could never get into, and help them look at a problem in a new way. Once the problem is described, the designer is more likely to say, ‘Well, did you look at this? How about doing it this way?’ It’s about not adhering to a set of restrictions that have defined how you think in business.”

Design Thinking is a methodology that takes the designers’ whole brain approach to problem solving into a proven and repeatable form that anybody can employ. You may normally think of design in terms of the completed object: the Web site, the chair, the building. But design has always been a process. It’s what you do—the action, not the end result.

Here’s how you can apply the designers’ process, even if you don’t have the personality of a designer.

  1. Define the problem. Make sure you’ve defined the correct problem that needs to be to solved.
  2. Research. Become an anthropologist. Get out of the office to observe and learn.
  3. Ideate. Brainstorm about lots of options. Don’t pre-judge suitability.
  4. Prototype. Design always involves iteration. Try it one way, try it another. Evaluate and refine until you think you’ve got a solution.
  5. Implement. Plan it and execute it, but don’t plan on perfection. Better to have something than nothing.
  6. Learn. Gather feedback, measure success and keep innovating.