Why Design Thinking Should Be At The Core Of Your Business Strategy Development
How many times have you left a formal meeting and doubted that anything was actually going to change? So many times we get together to solve a problem and nothing is accomplished—it’s frustrating. Sadly, many approaches to solving business challenges are misaligned for various reasons—pick your poison. Innovative, business changing ideas can be fleeting at times, but that’s the gist of what design thinking helps address.
I’ve been trying various elements of design thinking and have become really passionate about it because it works. Design thinking is a proven and repeatable problem solving protocol that any business or profession can employ to achieve big results. Design thinking combines creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained. It’s a mindset focused on solutions and not the problem.
A primary element of design thinking is simply thinking and ideating on a solution to address a problem or better meet a customer need. Establishing the proper amount of time for truly thinking through the work being done and measuring its merit as a viable solution to solve the challenge at hand is shockingly and overwhelmingly missed a lot of times. I’ve seen this at many organizations. Surprisingly, it’s that “little thing” that is missed—something so obvious. It reminds me of the immense amount of sales professionals that surprisingly do not ask for a sale.
As humans become more assimilated into the processes that govern their company, the insurmountable inertia against positive change can be overwhelming. Collaboration drops; good work born from proper thinking decreases. The machine, more often than not, has every waking minute of the day consumed due to task overflow and improper organizational structures. This produces one thing—chaos of inefficiency void of new pathways. The proper time to move the needle through dedicated thinking is silently not allowed by the proverbial “machine” and this paves a direct path to failure. You’ll never hear this admitted by corporate leadership at most companies, but when it comes to true change it’s more talk than real practice. Did you know that Google formally allows 20% of their employees’ time to think? That says a lot about the value of thinking. How much are you allowing your team to perform real thinking on good solutions to solve the challenges?
Design thinking should be at the core of strategy development and organizational change in order to create a culture that’s focused on this way of solving problems. This way of thinking can be applied to products, services, and processes; anything that needs to be improved.
There are many examples of big companies that use design thinking in their day-to-day operations, like Apple and Google. Design thinking can and does work for all types of organizations, big and small. Yes, it can be challenging to implement at a more established company where process and systems run amuck, but the benefits outweigh the process of cutting through all the red tape. And for entrepreneurs or small business owners, a design thinking culture is yours to create and lead.
So how can you implement design thinking in your company? Let’s discuss some of the basics.
Center on the customer; shake well
For goodness’ sake don’t forget the customer. On their own, different functional groups tend to generate ideas that serve their group’s needs more than the customer’s. Their decisions are founded on good intentions, but can sometimes fail horribly for the customer when made in functional isolation. Fragmented functions equal fragmented decisions and the customer feels the pain of these long before anyone internally does. This is so easily fixed, but it continues to persist at countless organizations. Gaining different perspectives is obviously important and this is where cross functional blending of teams adds real value and identifying those who accomplish it without hand holding is essential. It’s one way to help elevate the empathy factor—a key in isolating and defining the problem. Customer-centric is the main word here. When you get them in a room, you may be shocked at how unaware certain functional groups are of the goings-on outside of their own function.