Design thinking isn't a new concept, but it's continued success amongst some of the world's leading brands has sustained the interest of business leaders big and small. It has remained equally an inscrutable process, mainly because it asks people to fundamentally change the way they think about problems and solutions. But to many engaged in creative work, this process is intuitive. In essence, it steals a creative, design-oriented brain and puts it to work in all facets of business. So what is it about the creative process that makes it so effective in areas of leadership and problem solving? Here's an insight into the way real designers think about design thinking.
You're asking the wrong questions.
One of the most basic ways design thinking is applied to wider business practices is problem solving. Rather, you might want to think of it as solution discovery. Ever notice that the most creative, artistic oriented people often appear to be daydreaming, doodling rather than focusing, their eyes glazed over in dreamy thought instead focusing on the task at hand? Let them. Chances are they're not interested in the problem at hand, but the rather the problem behind the problem, and the problem behind that problem, ad infinitum until they've reached the real issue. They're not afraid to say, "we're thinking about this all wrong." This is about achieving a new perspective. One problem doesn't yield a single solution. One solution isn't born of a single problem. Visual thinkers learn to flip and turn their designs, take a different point of view. And at every step in the process they ask questions.
True collaboration will change your perspective.
Design thinking is at its core, a very human process. In an era when everything is digitized, trends identified and analyzed by the cold inhuman pulsing of a computer, when the whole world is saying to go digital, design thinking understands before all that can happen, a human has to have an idea. And not just one human. Design thinking is collaborative in nature--and its a blend of art and science.
One of the pioneers in Comprehensive Design Science once said, "a designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist." Chances are, one person can't be asked to be all those things at once. In this case, innovation is all about collaboration; many brains need to work together to solve problems. True collaboration requires you to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, knowing that there are areas where you need a hand, providing input on areas in which you excel. True innovation, whether it be in design or in the marketplace, is about looking at the world from an entirely different perspective. In order to achieve that, you need to surround yourselves with a strong, diverse team, a community of different strengths working together.
You can unleash the creative in you.
Tom Kelley, one of the management team at IDEO, the leading design thinking firm, said, "It turns out that creativity isn't some rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few -- it's a natural part of human thinking and behavior." Problems of any kind that cross your desk often require a creative solution. Design thinking is meant to reach for your creative potential. No more can you say, "I'm not the creative type." Own your creative side. But also own the creative minds of others. If you want to foster an environment of innovation, you have to lead by example. Learn to embrace failure, the process of trial and error, of erasing the board and starting from scratch. Moreover, a truly creative mind is an empathetic mind. It attempts to understand the different point of view, not just your own. So gather your team, listen and learn, and start designing real solutions.