Problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, leadership, collaboration and communication are in high demand. In fact The World Economic Forum ranked problem solving, critical thinking and creativity as the top three skills employees needed to thrive in the workplace of the future. LinkedIn found similar results. Teaching these skills however is not always easy despite their necessity. One simple way to reinforce all of these major soft-skills while also giving folks a framework from which harder skills in Technology, Product Design and Business Development can grow is Design Thinking training.
Design Thinking is a method for practical and creative problem-solving that designers, engineers, architects, businesses, and regular people employ to respond to specific challenges and solve problems in creative ways. It is focused on understanding people’s needs and creatively discovering the best solutions to meet those needs (what we call, design solutions). It can be thought of in 5 important stages: Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing. Essentially these 5 stages help teams understand the intended user of a particular solution, define a well articulated problem statement they're attempting to solve, generate ideas and clear methods of prototyping or testing to gather important feedback.
Some of the most important aspects of Design Thinking to know are 1) It basically reinforces all of the soft skills employees need to succeed in the workplace 2) It is project based and iterative, lending itself as an excellent skillset to learn whether in a non-technical or technical role and 3) It is solutions oriented and thereby aids in driving practical outcomes to problems. Part of the value of this methodology is also in its ability to help teams derive research and metrics that validate their solution earlier in the problem solving process. It is an extremely collaborative process as many of the stages require some sort of communication with other individuals in order to ensure that the design solution teams are attempting to build is aligned to the needs of their target audience.
This is what makes Design Thinking so important, and puts it at the top of our list of non-technical skills we believe everyone should learn. Many of the most innovative companies like IBM, Google, Airbnb, PepsiCo and Nike in the world are using this very simple framework to supercharge their growth and outpace industry peers by as much as 228 percent. Teams embedding design thinking in their organizational strategy have reported both 33% higher revenues and 56% higher returns as well as more satisfied and loyal customers overall.
As consumer trends are pushing companies toward offering increased product personalization and technology trends are causing many orgs to prioritize artificial intelligence and automation, there has been a simultaneous growth in the need for both non-technical and technical team members to learn skills allowing them to better contribute to these processes. Design Thinking lends itself to research driven careers both in technology and general business and is useful to teams across departments. Product and Engineering teams intersect when following the Design Thinking process and typically external personnel in Operations and Strategy find a place to meaningfully contribute to Product Development when learning skills in Design Thinking. Students that learn Design Thinking now will have a wide-array of career options available to them as they leverage this non-technical skillset with other interests in Finance/Economics, Technology or Applied Design.
Design thinking workshops are often designed around a specific challenge or problem that teams are attempting to solve. By investing in learning this framework, students and employees are able to hone important skills in a way that is meaningful to their work, both personally and professionally. Because Design Thinking is a practical framework to problem solving, it lends itself to more engagement by letting people know that their skillset and work will be used to tackle real-world challenges and issues.
Two other beneficial long-term effects of establishing a Design Thinking practice is that 1) being a scientific approach, Design Thinking lends itself to the growth of an Engineering Mindset which is vital for non-technical members of an organization looking to drive innovation and impact at technology based companies and 2) the Design Thinking approach models a method for continuous learning and development which helps organizations establish healthy team culture and ensure employees are in a position to succeed.
Whether your team is looking to train more individuals in soft skills like creativity or critical thinking, or else drive impact and innovation at scale, enrolling in Design Thinking workshops can help your team members be meaningful contributors now and well into the future. In one of our programs for Educators and Organizations, we walk through the Design Thinking process in greater detail, helping individuals sharpen relevant personal skills through project based learning tied to professional work. We'd love to help you get started with a Design Thinking practice. Contact us for a free consultation!