How Design Thinking Can Be Used to Improve Everyday Work Not Just Projects
May 28, 2019 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

How Design Thinking Can Be Used to Improve Everyday Work Not Just ProjectsExperiencePoint facilitators have hosted hundreds of design thinking workshops, seminars, and brainstorming sessions, where they see business professionals experience the powerful impact of the design thinking process. They’ve seen countless aha moments, when people are inspired by great ideas, or implement a simple idea that suddenly solves a seemingly impossible problem.

Here is one of those stories.

A full-blown design thinking process can last for days, and involve many team members, multiple brainstorming sessions and feedback loops, and several iterations before a final product emerges. But it can also be leveraged by an individual who recognizes an opportunity in the workplace to leverage a single element of design thinking to test a theory or inspire innovation. This is one of the latter examples.

No Instructions Necessary

An ExperiencePoint client was facing one of the greatest organizational change challenges of our age: how to keep people engaged in meetings despite the pull of mobile devices.

An individual who had recently been through one of our workshops was planning a meeting and thinking about this conundrum when she had a design thinking inspired idea that she thought might cause people to change their mobile phone behavior. So she whipped up a rapid prototype, which is a cheap and cheerful model of a big idea, and she tested it.

To create the prototype she traced phone shapes onto a large sheet of paper and wrote the names of the meeting attendees in each shape. Then she placed it on a table outside of the meeting room to see what would happen.

Without any coaching or chiding, people noticed the paper as they arrived and instinctively placed their devices on their names. Not a single person brought their phone into the meeting, and it led to a more focused meeting environment.

This wasn't an end-to-end design thinking project — it was an everyday improvement. It didn't draw on all of the tools of design thinking, or demand a sequence of feedback loops and brainstorming sessions. She just recognized a complex, human-centered problem that was meaningful to solve and had no clear solution, and came up with a quick prototype that took less than ten minutes to make and cost virtually nothing.

It’s Okay to Pick and Choose

A lot of newly-trained design thinkers can feel intimidated about using their new skills in the workplace, or they feel like they need to start with a full blown end-to-end design thinking project. But this story is a powerful example of how anyone can apply the discrete tools and sensibilities of design in their everyday work. Drawing out that prototype and monitoring the results was all she needed to do to test a design thinking idea and to see the impact.

It proves that anyone can use these tools to problem-solve, and that when you try a new way of thinking about ongoing challenges, it can bring real value and insight to an organization.

This prototype also just a great idea. If distraction is a problem in your meetings, give the design thinking process a try. It could lead to a simple, design-inspired solution that changes the way your teammates interact.


Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.

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