Is your business innovating the right way?

Ever wondered why fresh ideas are so challenging to generate in a business environment? Or why those ideas so often lose momentum or fizzle out altogether somewhere between conceptualisation and actualisation?

Finding ways to encourage employees to keep innovating while maintaining good morale and productivity is the holy grail of management, yet for many, it’s equally out of reach.

So, what are we doing wrong?

Modern research suggests it’s a flaw in the way we traditionally approach innovation. Age-old techniques like group brainstorming have actually been proven to stunt creative thinking, hinder collaboration, and even damage morale by triggering personal insecurities. But what’s the alternative?

It’s called design thinking. Here’s how it works.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a human-centred methodology for innovation which keeps the user at the heart of the design process and encourages collaboration, creativity, rapid prototyping and regular iteration.

In essence, it’s a way of stepping into your end user’s shoes to make sure you’re solving problems they actually have with solutions they can actually use, and don’t stray off course during the development and delivery process.

How does it work?

Design thinking divides projects into two main phases.

The first phase involves investigating and defining the problem you’re trying to solve. It uses empathy as a key discovery tool, encouraging teams to talk to, think like and understand their end user.

The second phase addresses the creation and implementation of a solution. It emphasises rapid prototyping and iterative refinement to weed out ineffective solutions and make sure the final result is the optimal fit.

Why is design thinking so effective for businesses?

For a start, design thinking forces businesses (and employees) to acknowledge that nothing is worth doing unless it’s solving a specific need. Gone are the days of shaking things up or creating new products “just because”. Purposeful actions are the key to smart, efficient and effective modern workplaces.

Another major benefit of design thinking is its focus on the end-user. Encouraging teams to get inside the heads of their customers has not only proven to enable more effective problem-solving, it’s also been shown to improve opportunity recognition and stimulate innovation.

How to cultivate a culture of design thinking

The best part of design thinking is that it’s not limited to customer-facing projects. It can be applied to all aspects of a business to make sure if something needs doing, it gets done right. Cultivating this mindset can take a bit of work, though.

The first step is to introduce your teams to design thinking methodology and make sure they fully understand its purpose and potency. There are some great corporate training courses available if you need a hand in this. (Attending these kinds of courses can be an excellent team building activity, too.)

The next step is to encourage design thinking principles in all day-to-day activities. New project on the books? Design thinking. Office party to plan? Design thinking. Covid-19 protocols to implement? Design thinking gets it done right!

Academy of Digital Arts professional training courses are approved for Mandatory Grant Claims and can qualify for up to 15% back under Skills Development Expenditure.


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