Design thinking is not:
- A new way to design things
Design thinking is:
- Thinking about business through the lens of design
Design Thinking is not the same as the act of Designing.
Design thinking means applying design as a methodology to work through strategic issues in a clearer way.
Design thinking means using design to organize and visualize thoughts.
When thoughts and ideas are properly visualized, they are much clearer to everyone involved, and much easier to have concrete discussions about.
They are also easier to iterate productively on.
Each update to the visualization of the thought, the idea, or the organizing principle, means the update has a tangible outcome, and is easier to quantify.
In that sense, Design Thinking can very effectively bridge the gap between Strategy and Execution.
As a side note: when people say: ”I’m a visual person”, what they typically mean is that they are visualization deficient. They are unable to see for themselves what you are describing, and need YOU to visualize it FOR them.
(A truly visual person would be able to visualize something without paint-by-numbers instructions).
So, what people really should say is: “I can’t visualize this. Can you show me?”
And what you would apply in order to do this is (you guessed it):
Because you’re helping them to think about a concept through the use of design.
You’re helping a group of often visualization-deficient people process their thoughts collectively by feeding those thoughts back to them in visual form, and thereby helping them be more deliberate and effective.
And that is much more than a buzzword.
Never just create a one-off asset when you can construct something reusable
Never just create a reusable single template when you can design something modular
Never just design modular components when you can devise a framework
Never just devise a framework when you can architect a design system
Never just architect a design system when you can define a user experience
Never just define a user experience when you can plan out a user journey
Never just plan out a single user journey when you can improve lifetime value
One of the most stressful and painful experiences in my professional career has been to watch up-close the attrition of valuable experience and the dissipation and squandering of considerable, hard-earned intellectual capital, because of passive handwringing and a mystifying unwillingness to lead.
Immense value is lost simply because people in leadership positions simply will not stand up and assert ownership of the disciplines which are under their stewardship, or step up and drive from a position of real and tangible subject matter expertise. Such delicate assets are so very easily lost in the cracks of, or ground to dust by, the wasteful and inconsiderate machinations of corporate politics.
Ultimately, the biggest responsibility of business leaders is to realize, champion and harness the capabilities of the human capital placed under their control.
A failure to own this responsibility is nothing short of a betrayal of the promise that talent brings.