Thinking about Design Thinking

In June, 6Heads gave me an opportunity to talk about Design thinking and the key principles that this approach relies on. It was a really interesting evening and it was a great opportunity to hear about the experiences and ideas that the attendees were exploring. I find it very inspiring to meet people who have the freedom of mind to think and explore without the boundaries of the instilled conformity and corporate rules.
Design thinking is something that I have started exploring some time ago, in an attempt to marry up the every day problem solving reality of my work and desire to find creative influences and inspirations. Design thinking is essentially a problem solving approach borrowed from the designers and engineers. The approach is deemed to be best applied to “wicked” (complex) problems, and is better known for its application to product and service design and development. IDEO and Tim Brown are to credit for the more wide spread use of this term.
If I were to create a Wordle image of the terms that are associated with Design thinking, it would probably contact the following in a VERY LARGE font: user, empathy, creativity, divergent, convergent, experience…
So what does this all mean? Empathy is the foundation of the approach and refers to understanding the customer and their needs in relation to the problem to tease out what they need even if they do not articulate it. Creativity in designing solutions means that the focus is on “what might be” and not on improving “what currently is”. Some other important principles include multiple iterations and testing with the user to work out the solution that addresses the needs through trial and error .
2 things stand out most for me:
– Design thinking focuses on the user more than on the provider of the service: the traditional approach to problem solving often goes down the path of “What can I do/do I know to solve this problem”, whereas Design Thinking requires you to think more along the lines of “what might help the user to make their life better”
– Action for bias: we often tend to think that if we spend a really long time planning before doing, we will cover every eventuality. Guess what, no plan survives first contact! The best way to find out what works is to get out and do it.
I have since discovered that design thinking is gaining more and more popularity in the business circles in application to operational business challenges, although many either do not call it that and may be do not even know that this is what they are applying! I am keen to learn more about application of design thinking in business and its effectiveness as a problem solving approach.
Do you know of any examples? What are your thoughts on this approach? Keen to hear your thoughts
Marina Okulova is a connector, learner and a keen explorer of all things creative. She has a particular interest in human behaviour and how practical problems can be solved through application of design, psychology & technology.
Marina support organisational transformational journeys by leveraging the power of networks and bringing people together to share cross industry learnings.

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