Use design-thinking to expand options

Design-thinking is a problem-solving process that’s been used globally for decades. It involves 5 steps which at their simplest can be described as: 1. Research. 2. Ideate (brainstorm). 3. Plan. 4. Prototype. 5. Iterate (tweak).

Step one is all about asking questions that lead to a full understanding and defining the right problem. Often what we set out to solve, evolves as we dive deeper. Done well, this stage will set us up for the whole process.

Then step 2, brainstorming for a large quantity of diverse options, can produce better and more innovative results. The key is to not edit ourselves at this stage. Just express ideas non-stop without blocking anything that seems too far fetched. This brainstorm can continue over several days and it’s a good idea to ask others for their ideas as well. Once we have a large quantity, consider what jumps out, brings us joy and energizes us.

Now we can narrow it down and plan some details on how to make the stand out ideas possible. Test drive a few ideas. Figure out how to experiment and get some feedback in your areas of interest. You have to actually execute part of it (prototype it), to be able to understand the details and nuances. Be continually iterative. That is, every time we hit a roadblock, tweak the direction and revise the path.

Take action: For those of us considering a shake up to our work life, here are some thoughts to get us started… What would we do if money were no issue? How could we make a positive social impact? What value can we add to the world? What countries/cities would we like to work in? What skills do we have that could make us lots of money? Are there any companies we’d like to work with? What if we started our own business? Is there an evolution to what we currently do? What kind of people do we want to work with? Can an interest or hobby bring us an income?

:: Inspired by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ book, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.


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