Have you been stuck on solving a complex problem with many facets? Do the common and current customs of inquiry and action provide the support you need to meet the emergent challenges in today’s workplace? If you answered “no” to one or both of these questions, Design Thinking could be the answer.
Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify strategies and solutions not apparent from our initial understanding.
Leadership today requires creativity, implementation, and effective judgement—thus great leaders are also, by necessity, great designers. Steve Jobs once said, “The broader one’s understanding of the human experience; the better design we will have.”
Design Thinking, or human-centered design, is a process that starts with understanding and building a deep empathy with the people who will be impacted by the outcome.
While focusing on linear thinking limits our ability to fully understand the whole issue, Design Thinking provides a process to focus on stakeholders in order to discover inclusive solutions. Harold Nelson and Erik Stolterman, Professor of Design at Carnegie Mellon University and Professor of Informatics at Indiana University, Bloomington, respectively, where quoted by The Design Way in 2012. They stated, “Wisdom – specifically that which we call design wisdom – is a much richer concept than problem solving, because it shifts one’s thoughts from focusing only on avoiding undesirable states, to focusing on intentional actions that lead to states of reality which are desirable and appropriate.”
Leaders who create a design culture are also creating a protective environment that provides the space and freedom to foster a process that is both powerful and vulnerable. Such processes nurture generative human agency and inquiry that have the potential to lead us through the complex challenges of today.
This article was first published by the Employers Council by author Julie Auger, ODL Consultant, MOD on May 29, 2018 under the title
Design Thinking, or Innovation by Process.