Creativity is often viewed as a solitary process. The reclusive writer, the intense artist, the slightly anti-social inventor – these creative figures manage to capture something new, something innovative and use their creativity to express what they’ve discovered.
For many who work in our industry, the workplace is divided into the “business” types and the “creative” types, sorted by silo and job description. Design thinking aims to change all that by building an atmosphere in which creativity can’t help but happen.
The concept of design thinking is taught and evangelized at the d.school, formally known as Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. There, according to Poynter.org’s Anna Li, “the school brings together journalists, engineers, historians, educators and scientists who want to embrace design thinking to create innovative projects.”
The point of doing so, according to Li, is to create solutions that are focused on the needs of the end user. Li’s article, “How journalists can improve their storytelling by embracing design thinking,” can apply to any type of endeavor where creativity is sought. It begins with the five pillars of design thinking:
1. Empathize. For truly creative solutions, we must drop our preconceived perspectives. Once we do that, we can put ourselves into another’s shoes and gain new insights into the needs of our audience.
2. Define. Narrow your focus to figure out what actually needs to be done that could have a real impact on the end users.
3. Ideate. Part brainstorming, part feedback, this process needs wide open space for collecting ideas and a commitment to keeping the brainstorming process enjoyable.
4. Protype. Once you have one a potential solution, build a physical representation of it. Mock it up, sketch it out, draft it in words. Iterate until you feel you’ve answered all your own questions.
5. Test. After the iterative process, share and solicit feedback to test your solution. Engage beta testers, run it by an editor, discuss your idea with others to test the validity of your hypothesis.
The process of design thinking turns participants into innovators for results with real impact. For more ideas, refer to Li’s article and the great resources from the innovators at the d.school.