All of Us Need To Become Design Thinkers!

I’ve spent some time over the last few months pondering the idea of design thinking.  Part of it was driven by the webcast that Linda Yaven gave on “Making Thinking Visible” for the Catalyze Community and part of it was driven by what I see are the key competitive pressures in marketplace.  It seems that more companies and organizations are starting to talk about increasing their innovation and improving time-to-market instead of cutting costs and reducing errors in their software development process.  But there seems to be a gap in the discussion about how they’re going to get there – which brings up design thinking.

What is Design Thinking? Design thinking is a creative process of ‘building up’ ideas (vs. critical thinking which is generally associated with ‘breaking down’ ideas).  Design thinking is inherently collaborative as groups of people from different disciplines get together to brainstorm, communicate and develop new and creative solutions to problems.  Since there are no judgements or fear of failure in the design thinking process, design thinking encourages maximum input and participation.

In Linda’s webcast, she noted that design thinking is not a genetic trait, but that all of us are capable of learning how to be design thinkers.  She also pointed out that design thinking is a method and a mind-set, and involves learning by doing or what she referred to as immersive thinking.  While design is subject to personal tastes and whims, design thinkers share a common set of values that drive innovation.  These traits include creativity, curiosity, ability to visualize, neutrality, environmentally centered, optimism and teamwork.

Why is Design Thinking Important? Design thinking improves collaboration and will drive innovation.  Companies that apply design thinking will become the market leaders that develop new and innovative products and services.  Since they will be able to test and experiment with many ideas, they will have a built-in evolutionary advantage over companies stuck in a purely analytical mindset.  As noted in an article on Design Thinking by Tim Hyler (referenced below), “Design as an innovative problem-solving methodology is fast becoming an imperative business strategy.”

How Does Design Thinking Relate to iRise? Design thinking includes the following processes or stages (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  1. Define
  2. Research
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Choose
  6. Implement
  7. Learn

iRise fits squarely in the middle of the design thinking process as we enable companies to rapidly prototype or simulate different ideas and alternatives.  In fact, it could be argued iRise is the tool that makes design thinking practical and possible for most companies.

Where Can I Learn More About Design Thinking? Design thinking is just starting to gain mainstream visibility in the business world and there are many sources with additional information.  Here are a few to get you started:

From the Catalyze Community:

iRise Blog Entry – Are You A Design Thinker?

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