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  • Daniel Ling

Think Like a Designer: The Top 5 Ground Rules for Innovation

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

Design thinking is mostly celebrated as a set of step-by-step framework with tools incorporated within each step. However, knowing all these tools and framework is like having a car without a driver’s license. A car needs a good driver who has set of driving know-how, do’s and dont’s of the traffic rules and good anticipation of the roads. These are the mindsets. It is important to recognize the importance of mindsets (or ground rules) in order to make your design thinking effective.

Mindsets in Design Thinking such as Empathy, Be Collaborative, Reframe Lenses, Embrace Failure, Defer Judgement are important as they are necessary ingredients to make the framework to be alive and effective. The toughest part is to inculcate the mindsets to individuals as they are not head knowledge that can be taught in the classroom. These mindsets can only be inherited through experience and application of these values in a real world environment.

So what are the top 5 mindsets that you need?

1. Empathy –

Empathy is key because design thinking is centred on human beings. How can we design good solutions for our users if we do not have good empathy or understanding of them?

Empathy is the ingredient for us to listen, observe and converse with our customers with intent and infer insights by putting on their shoes and seeing from their lenses.

Empathize is about meet, observe, ask, listen and feel for others about something.

2. Be Collaborative –

Collaboration is very important in design thinking because of the nature of designing solutions requires a team set-up. No man is an island. It takes a multi-disciplinary team to collaborate closely together in design thinking to be effective and generate more comprehensive ideas with different point of views.

3. Reframe Lenses –

Reframe your lenses is very important so that we are able to expand our boundaries in generating new ideas and solutions. This perspective of a design thinker has to change in order to be effective. For example, instead of redesigning a vase, we should redesign a new way of arranging flowers.

4. Embrace Failure –

Embracing failure is important mindset as a design thinker because in prototyping and testing, we are truly experimental. It is by embracing failure that we do get too in love with our ideas and get depressed if our ideas get criticized. It is the capacity to pick ourselves up and be objective again.

Failures should be part and parcel in the journey to get an even better idea. Thomas Edison did not get too disheartened on his way to make a lightbulb, but he just discovered 1000 ways that doesn’t work.

5. Defer Judgement –

Defer judgement is a very important mindset as it is not an easy characteristic for a human being. We tend to make judgements and are quick to criticize ideas. Learning to embrace ideas and solutions even if you don’t agree with are an important skill to have. Always stay objective and be focused on the problem- and learn to test out every concepts before putting any conclusions.

Last Words

I will be adding more articles on Design Thinking throughout the year. Articles of Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test will be added periodically to give my readers a broader insights to Design Thinking.

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About the Author

Daniel Ling has more than 10 years of Design Thinking experience and has moulded himself to be a “designer in a business suit”- strong in the Design Thinking process and yet relevant to the financial and business industry- across OCBC, DBS, NTUC Income and Lazada. He trained close to 500 professionals in the area of Design Thinking, Innovation and Strategy. He authored the Complete Design Thinking Guide for Successful Professionals and the book is sold worldwide via Amazon, iTunes, Ingram, Lulu and Kinokuniya.

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