Design Thinking is Not Just for Techies

Although I happen to be a member of a technology company currently, the majority of my career has spanned across healthcare, higher education, research and materials handling.

As I have interacted with various parts of our team and have learned the Design Thinking approach, I have discovered how useful and beneficial this model could be across all types of employment positions, departments and industries. Who doesn’t want to work with and for a more efficient team capable of solving even the hairiest of problems?

Design thinking on the business side is used as a guide to problem solving so that we can get out of our ruts and develop innovative and often out-of-the-box solutions. In a world where we have somehow managed to glamorize failure into a celebrated roadblock to success, Design Thinking allows you circumnavigate failure so that you can instead celebrate a prudent achievement.

It’s most effective when all members of a team participate. That doesn’t mean that you have to get buy-in for everyone at one time. You can have one or two on your team learn and understand Design Thinking principles so that the progress of your team will allow the process to speak for itself. Other team members will want that kind of progress and if you’re a leader, you will be able to encourage them to use it successfully.

Outcome #1: Getting the Right Answer

In technology, the outcome of Design Thinking is not only an innovative solution but also the right innovative solution. The word “solution” gets tossed around technology and sales groups day in and day out and typically describes a product or a service.

For us business folks, I think “answer” is the better way to phrase the outcome of using a Design Thinking methodology: It helps a person or a group arrive to the right answer. Although a simple statement, “right” encompasses the process in the Design Thinking methodology that guides you into walking through the problem, writing it out with personas, understanding the customer experience, brainstorming, testing out your first answer, and then iteratively testing, getting feedback and tweaking the answer until you arrive to the “right” one that best suits your needs.

If you think about something as simple as setting up a teleconference or a demo, that would mean actually sitting down and understanding what happens during the call on your end and the customer end and learning how to set up the overall experience for success. And all of us have customers… your boss is your customer, your employee is your customer, your co-worker is your customer, etc. That is the part of the Design Thinking methodology which helps make this process successful in so many different areas of business — taking into account the customer experience. You’re not pushing an idea or a product onto someone (top-down) you’re first understanding and researching the customer that is touched by the problem so that the answer that you come to is, in fact, “right”.

Outcome #2: Looking Good

It is always more pleasant working with someone who has it all together; they’re organized, succinct and have clearly thought through their answers. They have methodically walked through their processes with consideration to the experience of all involved. Compare this to an individual who is often scrambling, long-winded and answers questions without thinking before they speak and you can see how the former is much more efficient and productive.

When a person, their team and even their entire company uses the Design thinking methodology to approach problem solving, co-workers, outside departments and even Clients are happier to work with you because you’re now the company that has it all together. I can tell you that working with a company that uses the Design Thinking methodology throughout all areas of the business has greatly helped our internal thought processes and has resulted in a happier team and ecstatic Clients.

Yes, Design Thinking takes longer and no, you won’t get an answer in a snap. But you will get a quality answer that is the right answer which will ultimately serve you and your company better internally and with existing and prospective clients.

Syndi Espinoza is a customer experience advocate, consultant & sales professional who helps others successfully transform their businesses.