How Does Design Thinking Lead to Innovation?

Photo by Johan Larsson

Photo by Johan Larsson

I often get asked the question, “What is Design Thinking?”, and maybe you do too.  Like many design thinkers, I struggled at first to explain what this term meant. And, like any design thinker who is navigating in ambiguity, I knew I had to throw a prototype of my explanation out there and ask someone else to help me get to a better place. Slowly, after a few rounds of mental and visual iteration, my prototype became slightly more concrete as I pulled my thoughts together to create this diagram:

design thinking as a problem-solving tool

Unlike design thinking, other problem-solving tools are optimized for execution, but not for exploration. Thus, design thinking is an approach that is best used in the unknown. And because sustained growth requires venturing into the unknown, innovation is the natural path to organic growth.

Growth is often a financial-based metric. We also include impact, a human-based metric, as a desired outcome. Yes, growth can be acquired, and impact can be created temporarily. But organic growth and sustained impact requires the principles of design thinking: human-centeredness, iteration, visualization & co-creation.

So tell me, what speaks to you in my prototype? What aren't you sure of or just don’t care for? I’d love if you shared a prototype of your own!

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