What’s Design Thinking Good For?

Let’s face it. If we know what problem we need to solve, like figuring out how to make a piece of software do what we want, or fix a leaky tap, we are experts in searching and finding the answer. It might take the form of a YouTube video, a friend or family member, an online class, or someone we hire to make the problem go away.

When we face a more ambiguous challenge, we can’t just leap to solution. Our focus changes from problem-solving, to problem-finding. We need to examine the problem and learn why it occurs to solve the job we, or the customer is “hiring” the product or service to do. This may go beyond the immediate, visible pain to also include deeper motivations and the meaning this solution in the context of our, or someone else’s life.

What kinds of challenges is design thinking good for?

In the context of business, good challenges are ones where an executive leader has a high priority challenge, where the problem is somewhat ambiguous, and there is no clear person or team accountable for the outcome. This can happen when the solution requires cross-silo collaboration, or if this is a new area of business and no formal organization exists.