It’s easy for a team to get excited about design thinking right after they take a workshop or seminar. But the risk is that once they settle back into their daily routines, those valuable lessons can get lost.
If you want to keep the momentum going, you have to encourage employees to talk about design thinking with their peers. It’s also crucial to give them opportunities to use their new tools on projects and communicate early-project success stories to the rest of the workforce.
When companies harness that early excitement, the momentum for change can take off.
Here are a few tips for keeping the design thinking fire ablaze:
Customize your process. Instead of letting each team define their own design thinking approach, create a template or simple set of rules that define the company’s way of doing things. Keep it simple, and give the template a catchy name. This not only ensures everyone is using the same basic methods and language, but also makes design thinking a part of the cultural brand.
Give them support. Build a SharePoint Site or web portal that can host all of your design thinking tools and training, providing employees with a single place for questions. Include links to design thinking templates and documents, self-paced training content, favorite videos and blogs, and examples of past design thinking success stories. You may also want to include tools that let users rate content, post questions and connect with other design thinking teams to foster a community of innovation.
Leverage your champions. There are always a few early adopters who are eager to preach the power of design thinking to anyone who will listen. Encourage these enthusiasts to work with teams who are new to the method; engage them as trainers or coaches for their peers, and ask them to speak in employee meetings about how it all works. Having another employee tout the benefits of design thinking can be a powerful grassroots tool to inspire change.
Break down silos. The best design thinking happens when teams are diverse and made up of people from across the organization. That won’t happen on its own. Team leaders have to be encouraged and incentivized to build cross-functional teams as part of their project charters if you want inspirational collaborations to occur.
Invite customers to speak to employees. Having customers share their stories with a project team can have a powerful impact on employee behavior. Managers may stress the importance of talking to customers, but experiencing the “aha” moment of empathy is much more powerful. It is one of the best ways to make employees understand why customer engagement and empathy are critical to every decision they make.
Want to delve deeper into design thinking and corporate culture? Read our post on common workplace obstacles to innovation—and how to tear them down.
Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Design Thinking 101.