Why Design Thinking Is So Popular.
The most difficult things in business and in life is to figure out where to go next.
The second hardest is to anticipate what is likely to happen and prepare yourself for it.
This is not a problem related to our modern world.
It has perplexed some of the greatest minds of the past and continues to preoccupy many of our philosophers of the present.
Rebecca Solnit, in her amazing book A Field Guide to Getting Lost, nicely summed up the complexity of these age-old challenges.
“How do you calculate upon the unforeseen?” she writes. “It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that there are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control. To calculate on the unforeseen is perhaps exactly the paradoxical operation that life requires of us.”
A modern response to the challenge is something called “design thinking.”
You can scarcely pick up a magazine article or click on a blog without seeing some reference to it, which begs the question of why it is so popular.
Design thinking is a quick way to refer to a practice that is more accurately described as “human-centred design (HCD).”
It is the kind of thinking that starts when you have no idea where it needs to end. In essence, you really don’t know what you want as an answer, but you know you have to figure something out.
It is a path to follow and you can’t get lost or stopped on it, because for every stage, there is something to test and to learn.
There are five components of effective design thinking:
- Your curiosity will move you to explore.
- Before you start to explore you must dismiss your core assumptions and built-in biases.
- The only goal is to move towards action.
- You explore all possibilities through prototyping or experimenting.
- You collaborate.
In the end, this kind of design thinking will lead you to clarity. You will find a decision that easily links who you are and what you believe with what you are doing.
It is a rather revolutionary way to approach solving the biggest problems you face in business and in life. You learn to build empathy for the users of your products or services and experiment with many solutions on the path to figuring out what to do and where to go next.
In the ultimate example of good design thinking, you will find yourself looking clearly at new opportunities, you will care more about your customer, your team and yourself, and you will be enabled to take new risks and try new things.
How can design thinking work for you and your business?
Let’s say that you run a consulting business and you are thinking that there must be a way you can take your business to the next level and create a way to make your work more satisfying to you.
You don’t have any idea what that thing is that your business should do or what will make you care about it, but you start the process of thought. You have chosen a good problem because it poses interesting possibilities and you genuinely care about the answer.
You turn your curiosity into explore mode.
The key to design thinking is rapid prototyping. You start by building a list of things you could experiment with that could grow your business. For example, you could try to secure one big corporate client, you could write a book, and you could pull your wisdom together in an on-line course.
Then do a series of small experiments to see what appears to work and what doesn’t. Involve only small groups in these experiments. Gather honest feedback from all involved. Collaborate on the experiments to encourage more insight.
In the end, where you want to go and what you need to do suddenly becomes a lot clearer.
What makes design thinking so popular is that it encourages action in combination with thinking to solve problems, not merely thinking which can keep us mired in a cycle of what-ifs without moving forward to the answer.
It also factors in uncertainty, since nobody is expected to know the outcome when they start their experiment; hence there is no false pressure to achieve a particular result.
I find design thinking is more useful than the school of thought that led me into business which was “follow your passion.”
Passion is vital of course, but basing business decisions on passion isn’t the wisest course. For starters, all of us have many passions. It is a rare person who has only one when it comes to things they find fulfilling to do. And you can only be passionate about what you know. Design thinking pushes you to follow your curiosity and try things you don’t know.
Once you try something new, you may discover that you have a passion for it too.
Design thinking also makes you feel like you are moving in the right direction, even if you are not totally clear on what your destination is. It is less stressful to move confidently in the right direction and in the process, let go of some of your limiting beliefs.
The rapid prototyping of design thinking gives you a green light to try smaller experiments that don’t risk as much but give great insight nonetheless. You get to realistically try on new possibilities for business and for life and see if they fit. At every step of the process, you feel good, not stressed.
No wonder it is so popular!
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Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s best selling books: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and due to be released December 6th “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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