Join Turi McKinley for an in-depth discussion in this video Leading design thinking, part of Design Thinking: Lead Change in Your Organization.
- Leading design thinking requires being comfortable, continually going from the details of making, to framing the effort, so the team remains in the flow of collaborative iteration. There are many kinds of leaders. Some are integrated as guides in the team, and some lead many efforts, and others are leading very large teams. Across all are several abilities, which really well support effective, creative problem solving. Understanding these abilities and your own relationship with them is crucial to developing your design thinking leadership.
I see four things good design thinking leaders are able to do. And I found some strategies effective. The first is framing the problem and continually reframing it. Framing the problem means being able to go from the details available right now or from the concept explored today to the longview, really smoothly, and to have the confidence to let the details reframe the problem or the longview reframe how the details are being approached.
The skill is being able to hold several perspectives: the business strategy, the human needs, the organization's needs in mind, and fluidly integrate them into how the problem is being explored, so they can guide and shape, rather than shut down creative exploration. If there's one tactic to keep in mind, it's make suggestions. Be present with the team, and bring that longview into the suggestions you make. The second is enabling experimentation.
When you create an experiment with the safety to fail fast and to learn from those fast fails and small wins, you open the door for experimentation. To enable experimentation, model a bias towards making for your team. I recommend you literally make time for experimentation. It might be the lab day or the lab hour, whatever it is, and then make sure that you're present for that time. Roll up your sleeves, get the whiteboard marker out, and make with the team.
In both framing and experimentation, bias yourself towards addressing the hardest problems, the ones that really push the team thinking the most. The third skill, communicating ideas, is less often discussed as a key for successful design thinking, but I think it's very important. Companies are interested in design thinking for the promise of generating new, meaningful products, services, and experiences that will lead and innovate in their industry.
These new ideas are often very different from the established way of thinking about what's delivered today in a company, and this difference can introduce a lot of fear. So how you communicate, the insights, the new ideas, the people's needs, the solution itself, will shape how your peers react to the solution your teams create. You need to bring a strong eye for how the vision is made tangible, in a memorable narrative to the rest of the business.
One strategy is to make sure you are externalizing work on the walls of the team space, and that you are able to, day by day, frame the story of what's on those walls. In the ambiguity of creation, a daily refresh helps balance the detail and the longview, and it builds your narrative daily. So whenever you need to talk about the work, it's crisp, clear, and refined. The fourth. You are directing the team through all of this.
It's important that you're present when you are there. Define if you're going to be a reliable drop-in leader or a consistent collaborator, and make time to be available to the team. Use your skills in facilitation to encourage all the disciplines to collaborate, and model this shared assumption, the optimism that this will succeed. Your role is to balance the vision and the evolution of team thinking. Your ability to move from the details to the longview reduces the variable the teams need to worry about, and lets them focus their energy on the problem right at hand.
So think about the four abilities I shared: framing the problem, enabling experimentation, communicating ideas, and directing the teams. And consider where your strengths lie, and your growth areas. I posted those four ideas in the course community. If you'd like to discuss this further, please jump on these threads.
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