117 Words

Design Thinking

The kind of thinking you need to do when you actually want to get something done.

Design thinking is the result of a combination of processes and methods that all aim at one goal—rolling up your sleeves and doing stuff, in rapid iteration, until you've created something amazing. Sounds great, right? So why doesn't everyone do it? Because they're scared, and a little bit stuck. People have been taught that they shouldn't take a step forward until they've thought every last detail through—but waiting until you have all the t's crossed the the i's dotted costs you valuable creative time—not to mention a big case of "analysis paralysis" where you're so focused on getting things just right that all of your energy is expended on thinking and you have none left over for doing.

Prototyping and collaboration are two important elements to design thinking. Creating that first 'thing', whether it be a wireframe for a website or a sketch for a product logo, lets you immediately see if you're on the right track, and often sparks varied and different ideas that may have remained buried under the surface of deep thought. Working together in a collaborative environment, where judgment is reserved, creates a situation where team members are encouraged (and expected) to think wildly. Remember to stress 'no judgment right now' the next time your team gets together to brainstorm solutions to a problem your business is having.

Here is a table which helps put design thinking into context with a traditional business practice of iteration (critical thinking).

Challenge your company to try out the design thinking way of doing things. Most folks find it much less daunting to edit something than to create it—staring at that blank Word doc or Photoshop canvas can be overwhelming, indeed. Design thinking takes away some of that fear by moving rapidly through iterations toward the finished product. Design thinking is different from critical thinking in that design thinking embraces the concept that it's better to try something and miss the mark than it is to think it to death and never get to square one, or to get to square one so late in the game that it's meaningless.

See it in action: ZURB's design thinking approach--make it better than it was and as good as it can be, but don't waste time or opportunity on trying to get it perfect the first time out--has been greeted with mixed emotions by many of the 75 start up organizations we've worked with. Some immediately 'got it'; some were so frustrated at the way their business was going that they would have tried anything; and still others thought it wouldn't work for their business. We've found that there's nothing like being immersed in the process to help folks understand design strategy.

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