I first became familiar with the term design thinking a few years back when sitting in a platform brain storming session at a company that I was working at during the time. I didn’t fully internalise what this concept meant then, but I knew it required a far more holistic approach to thinking about things. You couldn’t just do things for the sake of, you needed to test things, ask questions, understand the why, and gather user feedback. In short you needed to solve the problem of various steps.
I am far more conscious about sharing the learnings that we learn from the world around us. How do we learn, think, process things, get challenged by others, open ourselves to different ideas, and can use feedback loops to our advantage.
We live in a world today were we have so much content available to us, but if we don’t do the small things… like share what we have learnt or write/talk about our experiences will we ever be able to work together to make things better? To solve real problems, that require multiple views, we need to communicate more… embracing complexity and understanding that it is rare for us to have the same ideas as someone else. If we do find ourselves sharing the same view as someone we trust we should think deeply about how we got to that point. Having different views should be encouraged, not shoved away because it’s not conventional.
Before I digress too far, let’s bring it back to the point around design thinking. This model of thinking is described by the Interaction Design Foundation as “a design methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by understanding the human needs involved, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, by creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and by adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.”
Going back to unpacking design thinking, I am reminded how it can be useful in so many areas of our lives. Things are inter-connected and designers started to unpack this concept ages ago. Design too has gone through its own shifts and the digital era means that we can be closer to user feedback than ever before. The team at Invision compiled a documentary titled, Design Disruptors. They interviewed 90 different design leaders at a few of the world’s most disruptive companies of our time. I found it fascinating to understand the shifts that have occurred, how practices have changed and how there is definitely a misconception around who a designer is. This is part of the reason why I find the term design thinking so powerful, thinking through complex problems in the here and now.
Recently, I listen to a podcast on the Knowledge Project when Shane interviewed Annie Duke. Annie is a former professional poker player and the author of Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Face. It was fascinating to see how breaking down the way we thinking really does guide our outcomes. It guides how we approach problems, the types of questions asked and what we seek to get out of something. If we approach something with complete certainty, are we exposing ourselves to our own biases? Can we learn more by being uncertain? My biggest take away was to approach things with the mindset of being accurate, rather than right. Have you ever taken a step back to understand what led you to make a decision in a board game you played or what do the impulsive moves you make around a poker table mean?
So, my question if you have got this far is can we make it easier to shift the way that we think? I think that we can all be designers, but great designers are able to remove things from systems that have served their purpose. Less is sometimes more. What are some of the things that we need to change in the world to aid a more inclusive, diverse, and skilled society? The world around us is changing and if we don’t shift the way that we think and adapt to change, it’s likely we will get left behind. So let’s work with the space around us and work towards being accurate, rather than always wanting to be right*… because what was right 5 years ago may not be right tomorrow.
*This concept is a powerful one that Annie Duke unpacks in her book.