Before exploring the hallmarks of design thinking, let’s first consider this: Who is a designer?

Typically — early in the process of innovation consulting — when I ask someone if they are a designer, I almost always get the same response: “No.” Why? Despite the fact that nearly everyone – whether they are engineers, business managers, marketing leads, or finance directors — depend on their ability to design creative solutions to the litany of opportunities and problems faced by their organizations, they don’t consider themselves to be innately creative.

However, being a designer is not grounded in formal artistic training, or at least it doesn’t have to be. You need not have studied architecture, industrial or graphic design. Just like transformational leaders, designers are found throughout every organization, from the front line to the executive suite. Furthermore, design is not a graphical product; it can be a concept, process, product, service, offering, or approach.

Reinventing Creativity

Most of us tend to think of ourselves as problem-solvers, not as designers. However, often the solutions we invent are just reactions to a pre-existing problem. This, in and of itself, is usually just an outcropping of the solution that we had earlier, and so on.

Design thinking, as we define it, is a new discipline. It comes from creating from a set of design principles. Most importantly, our approach — what we consider to be infinitely valuable — is designing from the user’s perspective.

Empathy For The User

Often, in the process of designing something, designers seek to survey as many people as possible, asking many, many questions. We’ve found that rather than going wide, it is more potent to explore deep. The value you get from surveying 10 people for an hour each is more insightful than interviewing 10,000 people through random surveys or five-minute conversations.

And here’s the secret: By gathering crystalized, in-depth insights, we move away from a place where design is only about problem-solving to a place of pure creation. In problem-solving we’re taking what is and changing it; design thinking provides a place from which to create!

In our next discussion, we’ll talk about the biggest mistake designers make — and how to avoid it.

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