I first discovered design thinking through a full-day training session during a recent stint working on a global innovation team. The training was delivered by 2 co-workers who were trained in design thinking at the legendary Stanford d.School. I had no idea what design thinking was or what to expect. I anticipated a long day sitting in a conference room listening to a lecture on a framework with potentially limited relevance to my immediate work.
Fortunately, I was mistaken. What ensued was an action-packed day filled with hands on activities including interviewing people to gain empathy, defining problems to solve for, ideating solutions, creating actual prototypes, and testing to gain feedback. Our training revolved around designing the ideal wallet, which immediately demonstrated to me the power of design thinking in solving a variety of problems across any industry/sector.
Stanford’s design thinking framework centers on 5 modes/stages: 1) Empathize 2) Define 3) Ideate 4) Prototype 5) Test. The framework is easy to grasp; there are other similar design thinking frameworks that exist but I’ve found Stanford’s to be the easiest for me to digest (likely because it’s the one I was trained with).
One of the best things about this design thinking training course was that it was free for my team!
Stanford d.School generously shares many resources for how to deliver its crash-course on design thinking on its website (https://dschool.stanford.edu/resources-collections/a-virtual-crash-course-in-design-thinking), including participant worksheets and tips for facilitating. Their course can actually be completed in 90 minutes although my team went deeper into each of the exercises (and we benefited from having 2 grads from the school facilitating).
Throughout the course, I was already thinking of other business/product design challenges that I could tackle through design thinking. Much of my work at the time was focused on “white-space” product innovation — abstract, undefined, and thus perfect for design thinking. I was both eager to apply what I had just learned and hungry to learn more!