10 Different Ways to Encourage Design Thinking

Design thinking fosters human-centered solutions that are optimized for inclusivity and success. Some organizations and teams may be new to design thinking. If this is your first time, don’t complicate things by sticking with old processes and patterns. Design thinking is all about innovation based off human experience, desires, and being empathetic about human needs.

No matter what the problem is, design thinking puts the end-user front and center in figuring a solution. This gives your solution the best chance at actually being adopted. It’s not designing according to profits, marketing, or branding. It’s designing for the human being that uses your products or services.

Here are the ten different ways to encourage design thinking in your organization:

1. Promote teamwork and competition

There are a few different ways to encourage design thinking. One way is to divide a large group into smaller teams and put down an incentive to encourage competition between teams, hopefully with the end-goal being the best possible solution. Some organizations do not pursue this route as they believe their workforce together is better than separate groups chasing an incentive, however, it is one approach that is sometimes used.

2. Offer words of encouragement

In ideating, offer words of encouragement to people bringing ideas to the table. The whole process of design thinking should be one where a team is working together, supporting each other. You may want to assign a team lead to keep things productive and reward those making more of an effort with acknowledgment.

3. Understand your user

Every brand likes to think they know their target audience. If they all did, they’d be #1 in their respective category. Design thinking gets you in touch with what your user wants, void of the influence of marketing or assumption. You may uncover unmet needs you never thought about or discover a subset of people you didn’t know you could connect your solution to.

4. Be honest, open & creative

Anyone can participate in design thinking. Every idea is accepted. It’s an opportunity to be creative and to not have one’s idea immediately shot down or dismissed. This makes each participant feel valued and welcome to submit proposals, all under the understanding that it’s going to help you arrive at the best solution.

5. Provide time and resources

Design thinking is fun. If you give a team some time to do it and the resources they need, it encourages them to get away from the usual day-to-day and dig into something new and exciting. Design thinking really gets your team involved, communicating with one another, and based on that experience alone, it is enough to encourage participation.

There are lots of alternative ways to make it fun as well, with free food, games, and other ways to ideate, prototype, and test solutions.

6. Train your team to be creative

Every one of us relies on certain processes in thinking and problem-solving. We have certain philosophies that work for us but not necessarily others. Design thinking is about that ‘others’ part. In a sense, you train people who aren’t natural innovators or natural designers into becoming innovators and providing them with a way to overcome an array of challenges.

7. Think about new ideas

Design thinking has a way to blow the doors off and let loose a wealth of ideas. Each idea is questioned at the prototype stage and challenges you to think about new things, identify new problems, and refine, refine, and refine. There are no limitations to innovation and as crazy a suggestion may sound initially, when you come to think about it, you may just find it’s the best solution you have.

8. Spot problems before the user

An idea is just an idea. It’s when an idea’s put into practice and released that you may find problems you didn’t see before. This is why prototyping is so important. Verify an idea. Identify what’s wrong with it. Correct it before anyone sees it. Consider it a form of damage control, minimizing the risk that a solution will fail from unforeseen issues.

9. Give ownership to workers

A whole team coming up with a solution rather than being assigned a solution from a management head allows them to have some ownership in the finished product. It assigns a responsibility they wouldn’t otherwise have and, while strengthening your output, also makes it so that anyone participating feels like they have some skin in the game.

10. Promote a culture of innovation

Some solutions have a shelf life to them. They are released knowingly with issues. This is only so more money can be made selling the solution down the line. Design thinking allows you to cut in line so to speak. It identifies what’s going to be a problem and allows you to come up with a solution long beforehand.

The solution you introduce is often a big jump, rather than just an incremental change that isn’t as innovative as your end-user perhaps would want.

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