“One of the most satisfying things about thinking like a designer is that the results are tangible.” - Tim Brown
The abilities to empathize, improvise and iterate are at the core of the design process. Things change. What worked at one point in time for your business may begin to hold you back. Tools and technology change. Our ideal clients change. We ourselves change. Only one thing is for certain and that is that change is inevitable and ongoing. That is why it is so important to have a mindset that engages with life and business in a fluid way rather than a fixed way. This mindset is often referred to as Design Thinking.
To me, Design Thinking means that I am being led by my curiosity. I’m viewing obstacles that arise as creative challenges and I am seeing my work (and life) as an iterative creative process that I am actively engaging with. Design Thinking orients towards the positive. It is solution-oriented and allows room for experimentation and failure. We move forward in imperfect action knowing that it’s better to complete something and get feedback than to get stuck in a creative cul-de-sac never moving forward. When you are in business, the design phase never ends. We are in a continuous feedback loop with our industry and our clients and that is truly a gift because it means that there is always potential to fix what isn’t working (or stop doing it) and to improve on what is.
Design Thinking can be applied to any challenge you face as an entrepreneur. The section below is an outline of the basic process that I apply to almost every new project or product that I launch. Let’s dive in.
Design Thinking Applied
“Create prototypes, run experiments, and learn from customers.” - The Discipline of Innovation by Peter F Drucker
The key to creating anything wonderful for other people is the capacity to empathize and care deeply for your clients. Empathy is about coming out of our own subjective point of view and moving into someone else’s. When you do this in a heart-centred way, you find ways to put your offerings in greater service to others.
2) Define The Objective(s)
Set a clear goal for the outcome that you would like to achieve. What will success look like?
Create a safe container for your creativity. This is not about boxing you in, it’s is about creating a safe space where there are no right or wrong answers. Allow yourself the freedom to riff, flow and try new things out. If you are collaborating with people, it’s important that they know that this is not the time for critical feedback, its time for creative freedom and exploration.
Take the best ideas from your brainstorming session and edit them down. Refine the best ones and get them ready to put out into the world. Don’t get caught in perfectionist paralysis. It’s better to launch a ‘light and lean’ version of your solution than to get stuck here for too long.
Put it out in the world and get quality feedback. By quality, I mean get specific feedback from your ideal clients. Frame your questions to make sure that you are asking them in relation to your initial objective(s).
Evaluate what you have learned and decide where you need to iterate. There is no such thing as failure, just an opportunity to test out new ideas and pivot until you get it right. Expect to iterate with absolutely everything that you create and launch into the world.
The design process is ongoing. You can consciously apply this process to everything you create as you launch, build and evolve your business.
There you have it! A simple overview of the Design Thinking process. I hope that you find it useful as you create new things in the coming months.