In Loren’s article this month, “What is Design Thinking?” he defines what design thinking is, why it is important and how you can implement it. Simply put, design thinking is when a person goes beyond making something “look good” and moves into a new mindset that is guided by human-centric solutions that anticipate what the end user will need and explore how the future could be to create an improved quality of life. While this method can be applied to multiple areas of business, we’re going to focus more specifically on the marketing realm and the ability of design thinking to create innovative, efficient products and services that enhance competitive advantages and brand loyalty. Here are five strategies to keep in mind as you begin your journey with design thinking:

  1. Be Flexible – As Loren mentioned in his article, while there is a place for standardization in the business world, design thinking requires an open mind and the willingness to initiate and make change that will help build a creative environment. This means you need to learn to break away from your ingrained patterns of thinking. One example of this is the “rule of ambiguity” developed by Christoph Meinel and Larry Leifer in their 2011 book Design Thinking, which states a designer should keep a problem open to interpretation because often times when we work to define a problem, we end up oversimplifying it and thereby limiting our creativity. Seems easier said than done, right? Well, that leads me to my next point…
  2. Establish a Process That Works for You – If you were to do a simple Google search of “design thinking,” you’d find a variety of recommended processes to optimize this method. In his article, Loren recommends a five-step process, which he defined as: discover, define, ideate, prototype and deliver. The main point here is — no matter the steps you decide to articulate in your personal design thinking process — you need to find the one that works best for you and allows the correct amount of flexibility to move back and forth as the creative process takes hold.
  3. Be Critical – Design thinking really comes down to a lot of questions – question the problem, question the solution and question the implications. Due to this, Loren recommends tracking your progress throughout your entire design thinking process, which will help you make sure you’ve explored all of your options by eliminating each dead end and being confident in the creative solution you’ve determined will be the best for the end user.
  4. Start Small, Dream Big – If you’re anything like me, wrapping your mind around all of the intricacies and ramifications of design thinking can be a challenge. Thankfully, many of the articles I’ve read on this topic points to the ability to practice and get better at design thinking. Just as one conditions their body for a marathon over a period of months, the same approach needs to take place when training your mind to use design thinking. You can’t expect to wake up tomorrow and be ready to run a marathon if you haven’t put in the proper practice beforehand. In the same way, you can’t expect to find immediate success with design thinking. Rather, you need to start small and work up to larger tasks through trial and error, research and personal discovery.
  5. Continue Refining – When it comes to design thinking, your work is never really done. Rather, it’s a process of continual questioning to make constant improvements. With that in mind, if you want to maintain and build upon the momentum you’ll gain with design thinking, you better use it, or you’ll lose it.

    If you’re interested in exploring how design thinking can benefit your business, please give us a call at 701-478-1111 and ask to speak with a Marketing Advisor, or contact us at absolutemg.com/contact.