Creativity generates change and innovation, and as such, is foundational to growth and success. Yet creative thinking is a strategy that many in the business world think of as a process that is solely in the lexicon of ‘creatives,’ such as graphic designers, architects or art directors.
Often the main focus of running a business is the product or service and how to sell it. However, designing creative solutions is vital to building a strong brand and extends to problem solving and identifying new opportunities.
At its core, design is a holistic approach to a strategic solution for a problem, challenge or need. If you are devising a strategy to solve a problem, rather than reacting with a tactic, you are designing. Design is more than catchy colors and trendy typography. Thinking like a designer can solve business challenges with innovative solutions - as such, “design thinking” can be applied to every area of enterprise. In the words of Steve Jobs, “It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Design thinking is a user-based approach that focuses on exploring unexpected strategies and innovative solutions to reach a desired outcome — thinking beyond the current situation to how it might be, and how it can improved from the users’ perspective.
“Design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
– Tim Brown CEO, IDEO
INSPIRATION: Research your competitors approach, visualize what could be done if budget/time/etc. wasn’t an issue, entertain avant-garde ideas, explore parallel industries and products. There are no limits at this stage — anything can provide inspiration. Imagine!
STRATEGY: Approach the challenge from the opposite perspective. Think like the user and redefine the problem. Explore and analyze new approaches; hold brainstorm sessions that generate bold ideas. Ideate!
CONCEPT: Prototype versions of the product or play out the steps in the service to identify obstacles and constraints. Test out how different tactics could transpire in the real world; flesh out ideas and the steps that would be involved to bring them to fruition. Experiment!
CREATE: Bring your inspiration, strategy, prototypes and testing into reality. Scale your brand. Take action and work towards improving the human experience while also serving your business, service and other purposes. Design!
These stages are not always sequential; they can be repeated or occur at the same time. Thinking creatively means thinking non-linear — and it can transform the way an organization develops processes, systems and experiences. Thinking like a designer can revamp the way you manage, motivate, inspire and create. Ultimately, design and thinking creatively aims to improve the human experience overall.