Join Turi McKinley for an in-depth discussion in this video Challenges of leading design thinking, part of Design Thinking: Lead Change in Your Organization.
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- In most work in education, solutions are reductive and linear. Design thinking opens the thinking and encourages exploration. While this exploration often has great results, it does introduce ambiguity to the work and many people are fundamentally uncomfortable with ambiguity. Design thinking doesn't offer a rigid set of steps. Its activities are organized largely by the continual reframing or redefining of the problem based on current knowledge. The problems themselves are usually ones which don't have a clear answer we can measure our progress towards.
A non-linear progression of steps and unclear solutions create a recipe for anxiety. Understanding your own relationship with ambiguity will help you find the strategies which work for you. Not strategies to solve for ambiguity as a problem that needs to be removed, but building your capacity for design thinking should increase the amount of ambiguity you and your teams are able to comfortably manage. There are four things that often mark when you or your team are struggling with ambiguity.
The first is big picture paralysis. This is probably the most common reaction to ambiguity I see. I've seen it in myself, I've seen it in my teams, and I've definitely seen it in our stakeholders. This often happens when the picture is set so large that no frame exists to help determine a next step. I recall one evening talking with a team about a new project someone said, "We're supposed to design "a branded experience for a building that hasn't "been built yet.
"The brand hasn't been defined and the place "has no mission other than the type of people "our stakeholder wants to attract. "Where do we even start?" We all felt paralyzed by the formlessness of the task. But there was one thing there. The type of people desired. It was still quite vague, we just had a name for that type of person. So we shaped an activity to do with our stakeholders to further define who those people were and what they might need from a new building.
The next day we did that, and the energy at the end of that impromptu workshop was very different than the evening before. The same person said, "We now know "who we want this space to serve. "Let's go out and talk to some of them "tomorrow, so we can learn what "they need this space to do!" By bringing the frame down, we could figure out our next step. The first, and most important strategy, is to focus on iterating ideas, continually reframing the question at hand, making something and then actively noting how this has advanced our knowledge or our perspective on the end goal.
The second challenge is step reliance. There's a temptation to make designed thinking into a process that you follow that gets you repeatable results from a repeatable set of steps, and that often helps people feel safer with ambiguity. And yes, there are some steps. Frame the problem with the long view, and people's needs in mind. Learn about the problem and then make something to explore it and then reframe again, but how you do it needs to be flexible.
you need to understand where you are in order to decide what steps you should take. So the second strategy is to recognize that each iteration may be different than the last. The activities and methods will change based on the question the team needs to address. Like realizing that what you need to do next is go meet the people who will use your product regardless of what's on the project plan. The third challenge is exhaustion. One of the key markers of an open mind in design thinking is asking, "What if?" But when the team gets oppressed by what's still unknown, they'll often hear markers of discomfort like, 'Can't we just?" Or the focus will shift from the problem to task completion.
So the third strategy, a key aspect of effective teams is this optimistic attitude that problems can be solved. When you feel the energy drop, ask yourself, "What can you jump in on "with a positive focus and help the team "see something being achieved?" The fourth challenge is overcontrol. If you find yourself reacting to using a design thinking approach with a desire to control everything, then you may need to step back from any anxiety you're feeling and reflect on why you feel that way.
Control is a normal response when a linear process is going off the rails, but in a less linear approach, it tends to limit collaboration and the open sharing of ideas. If you're not sure if this applies to you, the next time you're with you're with your team, count to 12 before you share any point of view on any question. The harder it is, the more controlling you may be. In this case, try asking, "Why?" Make suggestions and help clarify the important nuances of the problem rather than controlling each moment.
How a team deals with ambiguity as a group and as individuals is one of the key influencers of design thinking ability. To see the signs, you will need to be a bit of a psychologist. Understanding the team, the users, the stakeholders in order to see what's working for them, creatively. Noticing the signs of exhaustion, overcontrol, paralysis and step reliance will help identify the challenges early enough to help redirect the team energy.
The course opens with a definition of design thinking, including the roles and spaces required for success. You will then learn how to be a good design thinking leader, with specific advice on topics from setting goals to engaging the different skill sets and personalities in the room (introverts and extroverts alike). Next, Turi dives into creative collaboration: the heart of design thinking. She covers planning, research, and concept creation, and explains how to create a "service blueprint" that will help make the design a reality. Chapter 4 introduces prototyping techniques to advance the design.
Design thinking is all about collaboration so we've integrated a LinkedIn Group called "Design Thinking: frog + Lynda.com course." Throughout the course, the author will suggest opportunities for you to share what you're learning. You'll be able to participate in course-related discussions through your web browser at https://linkedin.com/groups/7022790 or via the LinkedIn Groups app, which is available for most smartphones. This is a great way to expand your learning and get additional insights from other members taking the course.
- Defining design thinking
- Implementing a design thinking mindset and approach
- Leading design thinking
- Aligning the design team
- Managing creative flow
- Guiding collaboration
- Generating hypothesis
- Prototyping fast and often
- Making a culture change