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Design Thinking is a great tool to use in your career, so we’re giving you a super snack-sized crash course on it today! You’ll walk away knowing what design thinking is + have three mega simple design thinking hacks in your pocket, that you can implement starting right now.
Design thinking is a working method that has been around for a few years in the innovation world. You might have heard of it because it’s becoming more and more mainstream in different industries. In short: design thinking is a method on how to figure out a problem or finding a solution to a problem that we would like to solve.
The official definition is the following: “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
To explain design thinking, let’s break it down into the most important elements.
Designing for people sounds like a no-brainer, right? But honestly, to remain competitive today, you have to put your customers, your users, or your people first. It’s what people are demanding. Ignoring this fact is just going to do your career or your business a disservice.
This is exactly what makes design thinking so different, and why it’s being adopted by businesses and companies all over the world right now. The overall design thinking process itself is really iterative, and it’s also highly empathetic. When you employ design thinking, you don’t simply immerse yourself into your target human’s world just to identify their needs, and what the problem is you’re trying to solve. You also actively include them in every step of the process. And that’s really what makes design thinking different.
Design thinking is a massive topic, it’s a whole course at Stanford University, so we can’t go through everything today. For now, we are going to just cover three crazy simple hacks that you can implement today.
Build On The Ideas Of Others
Some of the most innovative and highly successful solutions have come out of the craziest and most far-fetched ideas. Real blue sky brainstorming is at the cornerstone of all design thinking. One of the golden rules to design thinking is that during the ideation process, the quantity of ideas is hugely important. There’s no better way to get a huge quantity of ideas than building and expanding on the ideas of others.
In other words, collaboration is critical. One super quick way to promote this within your workplace is; next time you’re in a meeting or in a working session, instead of replying to a comment or an idea with the words “no, but”, try and say “yes, and” instead.
Design thinking is all about positivity, uplifting, and collaboration. Why does this make a difference? When you say “no”, you shut down a potential rabbit hole of ideation. But when you say “yes”, it actually plays a dual role in taking into account and acknowledging someone’s idea as worthy, as well as keeping a positive and inclusive spirit within the meeting or within the team. Try it!
It’s really easy to always defer to using written language to express a thought or idea, but getting the hang of communicating an idea visually, is actually a lot more effective. This is a really big design thinking principle to be visual.
Let’s say you’re presenting an idea in a meeting. By actually drawing what you’re describing, as a picture, literally drawing, rather than writing it down, you’re actually engaging a completely different part of your brain, which can stimulate and open up alternative thinking patterns.
People’s eyes are more geared to a visual picture than words. So it’s also about engaging your audience in the process. Visualising an idea or a concept really stimulates this kind of blue sky thinking that we were talking about. And this technique works not only really, really well in a brainstorming workshop, but you can even put it to practice in any type of document you produce.
The advice here is to get creative, no matter who your audience is. Whether you’re talking to a corporate guy or some agency hotshot, a bit of visualization really does go a long way. Please don’t worry if you’re not Picasso, even stick figures will do the trick. You might not be a great drawer, like us, but just a little bit of highlight to bring it to life is going to do just that.
Use A Timer For Every Meeting Or Working Session
While this is more of a productivity tip, this hack is used by most Design Thinking practitioners to keep workshops and any type of meeting on track. Using a time app explicitly allows you to set a block of time for a meeting and alarm sound as you approach the deadline.
You’re probably thinking how human-centered this is. The answer is, that people’s time is worth it. Time is a massive scarcity for all of us. Time is a resource, and we need to respect that. So going over time in meetings is almost disrespectful to the people in attendance. Time tracking ensures respect for everyone and keeps you focused. And the best part is: it increases efficiency!
These are three really simple design thinking hacks that you can start with right now. We’ve really only scratched the surface of design thinking because it’s a huge topic area. We recommend this article by Stanford Online if you want to read more about this topic: What is design thinking and why should I care?
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