Design thinking is a methodology that when practiced, can become part of your mindset. In organizations, new approaches can translate into new models of culture transformation. For a basic overview of design thinking- a human centered problem-solving and problem-framing process- read this earlier blog.

Here are 5 habits of highly effective design thinkers:

1. Beginners' Gaze - The best design thinkers realize that design thinking is deceptively simple because it is very intuitive. The complexity comes in learning which tools to apply in which contexts, and for what duration. They know that they are not experts after having only taken two workshops! Most importantly, the more proficient design thinkers go back to basics and take beginners classes to refresh and be open to learning new ways to approach challenges.

2. Show Me, Don't Tell Me - Design thinkers know that the complex brain is hard wired to be visual. It is part of that fight/flight trigger embedded in the hypothalamus. Thus, they doodle incessantly, and know that she who holds the Sharpie, guides the conversation, more adeptly negotiates and leads with inquiry - because stick figures and two-by-two matrices beget questions. Visualizing your thinking has less to do with you ability to draw, and everything to do with your ability to communicate complex and abstract ideas simply.

3. Proficiency at Scaling - With practice comes an ability to approach a range of challenges- departmental and organizational- by scaling design thinking principles temporally and spatially. For example, should the team develop a rapid prototype tested over 1 day, or should they extend the test over 3 months and among various stakeholders?

4. Get Messy - Don't allow perfection to be the enemy of good. Become ambiguous-friendly, suspend judgment and embrace prototyping by rapidly testing ideas. Trust that even the ideas that are left on the cutting floor can be revisited in future contexts and in different projects down the line.

5. Be Obsessed With Real Users - Design thinkers welcome getting out of the studio or boardroom, and out onto the street, into the marketplace and in the homes of real and potential users. This is the only way we truly challenge our assumptions and arrive at exactly what we are in business to do: to delight customers with meaningful products, services and experiences.

Start cultivating these design thinking habits and discover ways in which your business model evolves for good.

Published on: May 24, 2017
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