How to Integrate Design Thinking Into Your Work

It’s time to get down to the motive behind things. Before we implement something, whether it be a new system or process, we must first attempt to understand the “why” that we’re getting after.

We often get so caught up in the process, trying to converge on an idea, that we forget to take a few steps back from our own personal bias to see the full scope of what we’re implementing. Are we even asking the right questions?

The Fundamentals of Design Thinking

Empathy

Look at data as merely the indication of natural human behaviors. Once you begin to analyze the motive behind these actions, the “why” behind the “what”, you can then make attempts to work towards your overarching goal.

Data can lead to “band-aid solutions” that change the statistics in the short-term, but rarely stick over long periods of time. Thus, the goal is to find the root of the problem by conducting a deeper analysis of the system’s people and their behaviors.

Questions to guide this process include:

  • Why are users taking these actions?
  • What problems are created by their actions?
  • What are the “knock-on” effects of this short-term action?

These answers will allow you to fully understand your audience and their interactions.

Judgment

Your own judgment is likely the thing standing between you and the solution. These judgments can be detrimental and lead to assumptions on the process that are based on our own personal biases. They tend to rush the process and further lead to additional problems.

Listening

With judgments set aside, we can then dive into listening. When you begin to listen, you are able to dedicate yourself to the problem at hand. Listening free from bias is often a challenge, but when you’re able to look at the problem as someone from the outside looking in, you can accept a new perspective to allow you to make changes.

Imagine the Applications

Design thinking has the ability to change how we think and interact on a large scale. We can apply these principles to technology companies who are now changing how they research and act, essentially turning industries upside down by rethinking how their consumers use or interact with their products.

An example of this comes with Square Inc., a company founded in 2009 that reimagined credit card transactions, and has changed how small businesses operate and facilitate transactions and fundraisers.

Final Thoughts

“Take stock of what’s in front of you and then start to pull out of it”.

When you master this process, you begin to make solid connections that allow you to really take in what’s around you and not simply leverage your own bias and judgments.

Change begins with you. Let go of those judgments and assumptions and get back to the fundamentals.

Educator + Entrepreneur who lives for the “aha!” moment. Co-Founder @theberkeleyinnovationgroup, @healthcarebydesign. Lecturer of Design Thinking @BerkeleyHaas.