THINK TOGETHER: Use Design Thinking for Innovation and Creative Problem Solving

Innovation and creative problem-solving comes from an interplay between spontaneous and controlled thinking.This interplay is at the heart of Design Thinking.

THINK TOGETHER: Use Design Thinking For Innovation and Creative Problem Solving

Design Thinking in the New Normal: A Superior Approach to Innovation and Creative Problem-Solving

The New Normal environment is incredibly complex. This is one reason why problems may be ill-defined or not even recognized, and solutions often come up short.

Design Thinking is ideal for these circumstances. It meets the complexity challenge by bringing a wide range of perspectives to the table. Who knows what the engineers or the creatives will contribute? What unique perspectives will the technology and marketing experts offer for the challenge at hand? From their different thinking styles, life experiences, expertise, and information sources, the diverse group sees a bigger picture, develops deeper insights, and smarter solutions emerge.

Another advantage of Design Thinking is that it uses both sides of the brain: creative and analytical. Creative thinking is spontaneously imagining what might be a solution to a problem. Analytical thinking is controlled evaluating skills such as ordering, comparing, contrasting, and selecting.

Recent research confirms that the best solutions come from an interplay between spontaneous and controlled thinking. This is what Design Thinking delivers: the ability to both brainstorm ideas and critically evaluate them to determine if they’ll actually work.

Design Thinking has been evolving since the late 1960’s. That was when Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon proposed his multi-stage model. There are many variants today, with the numbers of stages ranging from three to seven. However, there are some common denominators:

  • Use the best tools and techniques from multiple disciplines
  • Have a non-linear approach; allow steps to flow in any sequence
  • Focus on problem definition and outside-the-box thinking
  • Build better and better ideas through multiple iterations

Examples of Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a widely acclaimed as an effective way to discern unrecognized and unmet user needs. With this unique aim, it has produced many amazing products— from the first Apple Mouse to a child-friendly MRI machine.

Design Thinking has also been applied to service challenges, such as how to radically enhance a customer’s experience. Airbnb cites Design Thinking for helping transform it from a failing startup into a billion-dollar business. “Failing Startup” is not an exaggeration. In 2009, the company’s revenue was flatlined at $200 per week and the founders had maxed out their credit cards.

Uber used Design Thinking to create its breakthrough Smartphone app that connects riders with drivers to provide on-demand transportation. The UberEATS team has designed new ways to make eating well effortless for everyone, everywhere. Uber-speed delivery is now available from restaurants in over 80 cities around the world.

An Accelerated Approach to Design Thinking

In my firm, GEO Group Strategic Services, Design Thinking is a collaboration. The GEO team brings a deep knowledge base and expertise on how to accelerate smart, innovative thinking. The client team brings an understanding of their unique challenges and opportunities, as well as their personal and professional perspectives.

GEO’s ultimate differentiator is our online Collective Intelligence System that turbocharges Design Thinking in three ways:

  • Fast-cycle Meetings – Using our virtual TOOLS, you will accomplish more in a one-hour online session than you typically would in a two-hour face-to-face meeting.
  • Accelerated Decisions – Because of our high-velocity virtual PROCESSES, you will increase the frequency and flexibility of idea sharing, as well as the speed of decisions.
  • Increased Productivity – By using our virtual FACILITATION services, you can focus your creative energy on the most critical design issues.

Design Thinking Philosophy and Process

We describe our Design Thinking philosophy and process using the Rule of Three (the number we can easily recall in short-term memory):

    • Empathy for the context of a challenge or opportunity
    • Creativity in generating new insights and options
    • Discipline in evaluating whether ideas will work
    • Define a high priority opportunity or challenge
    • Shape solution options; then, evaluate and decide
    • Test quickly, monitor results, and course correct

Our approach is visually depicted below.

Design Thinking with GEO Group Part 0 - All ComponentsThe Touchstones of our Design Thinking Services

“Design, test, and iterate” are the top three touchstones of our approach. We rapidly generate ideas, create and test prototypes, get fast feedback from actual users, and iterate the design. This rapid-cycle process ensures that you don’t spend too much time, effort or money on just one idea too soon. It sometimes seems “messy,” but it typically yields smart solutions.

Our aim is to deliver:

  • Better processes for innovative thinking
  • Rapid capturing and integration of ideas
  • More original and appealing solutions
  • Quickly building prototypes and testing them
  • Engaged people taking innovation to a higher level

How to Thrive In The New Normal: DESIGN THINKING

Given the complexity of the New Normal, a superior approach to creative problem-solving is essential.  This approach should: (a) tap the Collective Intelligence of a diverse group; (b) leverage both sides of the brain: creative and analytical; (c) employ the best creative thinking tools and techniques from multiple disciplines.

Three “Design Thinking” questions to consider:

  • Do you have problems that are ill-defined?
  • Are solutions to problems sometimes coming up short?
  • How important is achieving faster, more creative problem-solving?

Three additional Think Together articles to read:


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© 2001-2018 Leland Russell | All Rights Reserved

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About Leland Russell

Leland Russell accelerates strategic action with GEO Leadership™ principles, processes, and virtual tools. He is the creator of The GEO Paradigm™ and co-author of Winning In FastTime®. GEO Group Strategic Services, the firm he founded, has a stellar performance track record with Fortune 500 organizations, mid-size firms, and non-profits. Leland writes regularly about how leaders can thrive in the New Normal on his website —

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