I don’t think of myself as a designer, as creative, artistic, or as someone who was trained to be a professional in the field of design. Yet I use the process of design- specifically design thinking in both my professional and personal life. This is because design thinking is not the exclusive property of designers. In fact, when engaging in design thinking the collaborators are not typically “designers” by profession. Design thinking is actually most effective with people of different backgrounds, expertise and experiences who may offer a new or unique perspective to developing a solution to a specific problem. People who are genuinely curious; people who question existing systems and are optimistic about new ideas and new opportunities.
Design thinking is all about creative problem solving and is a powerful tool for innovation. It revolves around a deep interest in understanding the needs and issues of the people for whom the products or services are being designed for. It involves observation and close interaction: watching, listening, and understanding the intended user. Done properly, this process propels innovation, leads to differentiation and creates a competitive advantage.
I recently re-listened to a podcast episode of Ideo Futures with Jane Chen [Episode 39], founder and CEO of Embrace Innovations. Her team applied design thinking to a real-world problem: developing a low-cost incubator to keep prematures babies warm in underserved populations. By personally engaging with the community affected by the problem and employing the principles of observation, listening and prototyping, the team developed an incubator that has saved the lives of over 40,000 babies. This inspiring story illustrates the power of design thinking to find practical, concrete, innovative solutions that solve a problem and fill a need.
There are so many great examples of applied design thinking, from the first design of Apple’s mouse to solving health problems as illustrated above. Design thinking is being used to improve financial processes, to reimagine healthcare and educational institutions, in transportation systems, insurance, media and so much more.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to apply design thinking as an employee of an existing company or as an entrepreneur, join us on September 18, 2019 for a one day workshop, Design Thinking for Innovation. What you’ll learn is sure to transform how you approach problem solving and innovation.
By: Vicki Hammarstedt, Director & Design Thinking Facilitator, Berkeley Advanced Media Institute