You are excited about design thinking and the impact it can have on your and your team’s performance, but your boss isn’t on-board. It’s a common scenario that often occurs because of the misperceptions that some leaders have about design thinking. They’ve heard the stories about raucous brainstorming sessions, and people building models out of clay and pipe cleaners, and assume it is too touchy feely — or even “fun” — to add any value to the business.
These are obviously incorrect misconceptions. If you want your boss to support your design thinking ambitions you have to sell it to them in terms they will understand.
Here’s a framework for how to do it.
Start with the business impact design thinking will have. Business leaders care more about the outcome than the process. Are you going to solve a difficult business problem? Speed time to market for new products? Improve sales? When you can link design thinking to issues they care about and in terms that they use, you are more likely to capture their interest.
Explain how you will get there. Once you hook them with a business outcome, explain (succinctly!) how you get there, making sure to draw a line between the process and the result. Don’t just tell them it will help you engage with customers in new ways, explain how this interaction will drive better results. Many leaders assume that focus groups and net promoter scores are all they need to engage with customers, so be specific about how things like meeting with customers one-on-one, and talking to extreme users will help you identify unmet needs, and why that’s important to the business.
Share stories. Don’t make them take your word for it, point them to case studies and data proving that design thinking works. Some of our favorites include this Forrester/IBM report on the Economic Impact of Design Thinking, and McKinsey’s The Business Value of Design report, both of which quantify the financial benefits of design thinking. You can also check out some great case studies on our blog, including this piece sharing Four Design Thinking Success Stories, and this one highlighting Three Banks that Have Adopted Design Thinking.
Be brief. Your leaders don’t need endless details about the intricacies of design thinking methods. So unless they ask for more details, be concise. Make the case for the business benefits of design thinking, share a few convincing stories, then move on. It’s better to leave them wanting more than wondering when you will stop talking.
In four simple steps, you’ll be able to demystify design thinking, clarify the misconceptions and get one step closer to equipping your teams with the tools they need to innovate and creatively problem solve.
Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.
Luke Brodie is an enthusiastic Master Facilitator with ExperiencePoint. He energizes groups of business leaders through spirited deliveries of award-winning ExperienceInnovation and ExperienceChange workshops for Fortune 500 companies. He also empowers training partners to scale their impact around the globe. Luke holds an MBA from the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University and has worked internationally in a variety of professional roles including airline management and as a professional musician.