Today’s post, the second in a two-part-series on design thinking, comes to us from Cecily Tyler, Program Manager, Human Insights at Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG). Since earning her M.P.A. at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2016, Cecily has served as a Fellow at the Harvard Innovation Lab at the Harvard Business School, and at the Innovation Field Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
In my previous post on design thinking, I wrote about what design thinking is and how I came to believe in it as a useful framework for enabling innovation. Today’s post will give you the nuts and bolts of actually using the deign thinking process.
The design thinking framework aids in building compassion for the end user. Design thinking, as Tim Brown has defined it, “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.” It helps us with the process of integral inquiry: asking about the problem, asking others and ourselves to consider implicit assumptions and avoid skewed past learning. It makes room for uncertainty, and ill-defined challenges. In this way, we can build the car while driving it, for example, the Danish design agency Hatch and Bloom’s created The Good Kitchen using design thinking and during the pandemic Rapid Design Thinking [was used] to Overcome COVID-19 Challenges in Medical Education.These are now living stories of innovation that are grounded in the integrity of thoughtful innovation.
The Design Thinking Framework:
The design thinking framework components vary at times but generally reflect Nobel Prize laureate, Herbert Simon’s concepts in The Sciences of the Artificial 1969. Below is a popular 5-point outline taught by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.
There are additional stages that have proven to level up the success of a design thinking Lab:
Design thinking capacity in companies is now a proven commodity. It certainly is not a requirement for companies, however those who have chosen not to use it offer cautionary tales.
Yet, this is a lot to take in and bring to life in your company, even in your team. To understand any framework (or method) is one step; to implement it – that is a whole next step and often much more challenging. The art of implementation is where the operations, creativity, and effective strategies are required.
I suggest making an easily accessible copy for yourself of the framework that I outlined above or to find another design thinking framework out there on the internet that fits your learning style better. You can also find many design thinking courses, some better than others.
To start the practice of design thinking, begin with yourself; become familiar with the first steps and basic actions needed to bring the process to life. Then, perhaps ask a trusted colleague to join in the process. Start learning in small steps and scale-up. Ask a third trusted colleague. When you three feel comfortable, share it more broadly.
Design thinking is simply one way to embrace the messiness that invention, innovation, and creative thinking require to produce higher-yielding outcomes. These practices have been around much longer than design thinking and are innately a part of our makeup. We all know how to be innovative, sometimes it’s simply that we are rusty at the process. If you start small, you can implement the design thinking methodology thoughtfully and wisely which is critical for fruitful results in your work.
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