Design Thinking: Embrace Your Belief in the Unknown

 Photo by:   saamiblog

Photo by: saamiblog

As a service designer and design thinker, I find myself saying this often:

      “I don’t know … but I know how to know.”

Tonight I attended a dharma talk by renowned mindfulness teacher Sharon Salzberg. She said something that surprised and delighted me:      

“I deeply believe in the unknown – that there is so much we don’t know.”

A big smile spread across my face, because this is my felt sense of the world. We marvel that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years, but still … there is so much we don’t know. I can’t defend it, but I know it in my bones.

When Peer Insight helped Pfizer consider how 25-35 year-olds might overcome their smoking habit, I was deeply anxious. That’s a chemical addiction, right? Same thing happened when we joined with AARP recently to consider how 50-something African American women make food choices in the face of a Type 2 diabetes epidemic in their community. Can we address these challenges? I don’t know. But I know how to know: 

Design Thinking = empathize … visualize … co-create … iterate

Several years ago I interviewed Kipum Lee, a gifted designer, about his craft.

Tim:  What do you do when you face what seems like an impossible challenge?
Kip: I take a deep breath, and I trust the design process. It has surprised me many times.

Was there a time when you said, “I don’t know, but I know how to try,” and got a surprising (positive) outcome? I’d love to hear about it! Because these journeys into the unknown keep me going forward.

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