When we think of designing something, most of us tend to think of an object or an end result such as a “well-designed product”. However, “Design Thinking” can be applied in business to encourage innovation and creativity.
Designing something tends to require various prototypes to be created and evaluated in order to agree on the shape of the final product. Design processes can also be used as a protocol for solving business problems and creating new, innovative solutions. Design thinking consists of four key elements:
1. Defining the problem
When faced with a business problem, most of us tend to jump straight to possible solutions. However, taking the time to sit down and define the root problem rather than the consequences caused by that problem is absolutely key. One problem might be that team meetings always run late. However, the problem, in this case, could be that there is no agenda and no chair of any meeting (i.e. the meetings lack structure) rather than simple bad timekeeping. So instead of extending the time scheduled for the team meetings, make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda before the meeting and stick to it.
This involves creating and testing many potential solutions. Even the most talented business teams sometimes fall into the trap of solving a problem, in the same way, every time. Design thinking requires that no matter how obvious the solution may seem, many solutions must be created for consideration. Looking at a problem from more than one perspective always yields richer results and can result in the development of new and innovative solutions. Why not mix up your teams for a fresh pair of eyes on an old project to get ideas flowing.
3. Refine a selection of options
Once you have a handful of potential solutions you need to agree as a team to consider how each can be further developed, avoiding bias from past experience. At this stage, everyone in the process should consider whether elements of different solutions could be combined in order to create a new, more refined solution. Then, test your solution and record the results to help select the winning solution.
4. Pick the winner and execute
At this point, enough potential solutions have been developed in order to deliver a successful outcome. Once agreed, your organization can commit the time and resources required to the newly designed solution in order to further refine it and create an implementation plan around it.
As a leader, it is important to encourage creativity and innovative ideas within your firm, in order to create future industry leaders that think outside the box. So, next time you start a project, implement design thinking into your strategy.
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