Let it go…

19 May 2023
19 May 2023 Martin Cheetham

My son came home from school the other day and told me that fail means “First Attempt in Learning”. I’m always advocating this kind of approach with my kids, and I think that most parents try to teach them that failing is just finding a way that doesn’t work. So the only true mistakes are the ones where we don’t learn anything.

Why is it that so many organisations don’t promote this way of thinking within their processes, structures and culture?

Attachment to ideas or projects without understanding if they will actually connect with your desired audience is a common occurrence within businesses. Many times, we have presented research recommendations (that would steer an offering in a new direction) that have been completely ignored due to stakeholders not wanting to let go of their original idea.

Whether it is ego, internal politics or the simple fact that a lot of man-hours or budget has gone into a project, there are many reasons people don’t want to let go of a specific project (or even a portion of it). This is why I believe that design thinking mindsets should be adopted and embedded within every organisation.

“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.” – Uri Levine

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that emphasizes empathy, creativity, and a user-centered perspective. To effectively apply design thinking, it’s important to adopt certain mindsets that foster innovation and promote a human-centered approach. Here are some of the key design thinking mindsets:

  1. Empathy: Design thinkers place a strong emphasis on understanding and empathizing with the people they are designing for. They seek to gain deep insights into users’ needs, motivations, and behaviors, allowing them to develop solutions that truly address those needs.
  2. Human-centredness: This mindset revolves around putting people at the center of the design process. Design thinkers strive to create solutions that are meaningful and valuable to users, taking into account their emotions, desires, and aspirations.
  3. Optimism: A positive and optimistic outlook is essential in design thinking. Design thinkers believe that every problem has a solution and that they have the ability to find innovative ways to tackle challenges. They approach problems with a mindset of possibility and the belief that they can make a positive impact.
  4. Iteration: Design thinkers embrace an iterative and experimental approach. They understand that the first solution might not be the best and are willing to go through multiple cycles of prototyping, testing, and refining ideas. They view failures and setbacks as opportunities for learning and improvement.
  5. Collaboration: Collaboration is a fundamental aspect of design thinking. Design thinkers value the input and diverse perspectives of team members, stakeholders, and users. They encourage cross-functional collaboration and believe that collective intelligence leads to better solutions.
  6. Systems thinking: Design thinkers consider the larger context and systems within which a problem exists. They analyze the relationships and interdependencies between various components, recognizing that changes in one area can have ripple effects elsewhere. This helps them identify holistic solutions that address the root causes of problems.
  7. Experimentation: Design thinkers are comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. They are willing to take risks and experiment with new ideas, methods, and technologies. By prototyping and testing ideas early on, they gather valuable feedback and insights that inform the design process.
  8. Bias towards action: Rather than getting caught up in excessive analysis or overthinking, design thinkers emphasize taking action. They believe that the best way to learn and improve is by actively engaging with the problem and testing potential solutions in the real world.

By adopting these design thinking mindsets, individuals and teams can approach problem-solving with a human-centred, innovative, and iterative mindset that leads to more effective and meaningful solutions.

It isn’t easy to embrace ambiguity and to not be precious about the idea, solution or outcome. But it is the best way to truly innovate and connect with desired user in an impactful and meaningful way.

In the words of a certain animated princess, “let it go…”