Design thinking for personal & professional life


Shared by 
Michael Lewrick
Author of the international bestsellers

Michael Lewrick, author of the international bestsellers "The Design Thinking Toolbox" and "The Design Thinking Playbook", explains how to embrace design thinking for the personal & professional life. Find out how a new mindset can help us to better master personal and organizational challenges.

The challenge: an unbalanced work life

It is perhaps not surprising that the pandemic has seen a growth in soul-searching and in particular, a desire to find a way to manage the increasingly intertwined worlds of our personal and working lives. 

Never before have the lines between the two been so blurred, and with the world of work changing dramatically, there is an appetite for testing out new ways of doing and thinking

Michael Lewrick, author of the international bestsellers “The Design Thinking Toolbox” and “The Design Thinking Playbook” believes that a new mindset based on the design thinking methodology can help us to better master both personal and organizational challenges.

Why now? Well, the pandemic has left us all struggling to adapt to a new situation and it has called for a new approach. 

While many things have moved online and into the virtual realm out of necessity, with less distraction from the daily grind and a seemingly never-ending stream of Zoom calls, emails, and tasks to complete, a new approach is being sought out by those who seek a better balance.

What does design thinking have to do with it? Well, according to Michael Lewrick, design thinking provides a methodology that will work for us in our personal lives, and then automatically move into the workplace. 

It’s a bottom-up approach that can help companies to be more empathetic – get closer to people and come up with better ideas.

And if the number of people looking into using Klaxoon to help with their design thinking processes is anything to go by, it’s worth taking a closer look.

The solution: think outside the box with design thinking

Mindset is one of the things that typically hampers innovation. It can take a long time for people to change, and longer still for those changes to filter through to an organization.  Michael Lewrick believes that it’s here that design thinking can really make a difference. 

He has over 15 years of experience in design thinking, and has worked with many companies who focused on products or tech without really factoring in a human element. Over the years, he has built up a lot of different tools and methodologies to help him engage with people and approach problems differently. 

Central to this is the idea that if you can find an approach that works for people in their personal life, and once it becomes embedded behavior, it will automatically carry over into their working life as well.

This is crucial, he says, if organizations are serious about changing the way they approach innovation

What’s more, the current pandemic has called into question the very basics of how we live: how to structure our day when we’re at home so much more, how not to sit in front of a screen for the entirety of daylight hours! 

Lewrick is clear that he has lived the design thinking approach for a long time, which means he can show people how they might think differently based very much on his own experience, rather than a textbook approach.

Typically, he tries to demonstrate the benefits of what he describes as radical cooperation, as well as how to give feedback in a positive manner.

He finds Klaxoon to be a great tool for facilitating the workshops that are central to the design thinking methodology. Why? Because Klaxoon is all about teams coming together and aligning with ease

Participation and inclusivity are all part of the deal and with a huge number of design thinking templates already created with workshops in mind, scalability is easy and it’s the perfect place to start.

You can share pictures and drawings, have post-its ready to go and the best thing is, it’s all super intuitive.

Design thinking template open on a Klaxoon Board, with a team interacting on it remotely. | Klaxoon
With a design thinking template, share your information with your team in a centralized and clear way, and from anywhere!

The key to this way of working is to start thinking outside of the box – brainstorming in different ways and really considering the questions that you’re asking.

In practice, this means learning more about people on a personal level, which is something that is usually missing when connections are solely online. Without coffee catch ups, work drinks or ad hoc lunches, it is important to be more calculating in the exchange of verbal information. 

Lewrick suggests including some simple icebreakers at the start of online workshops or meetings to start creating more personal connections.  Sharing a picture or story, or something humorous that will start to build empathy within the team.

A team running an icebreaker in a room, on a Klaxoon icebreaker template. | Klaxoon
Start your workshop with an icebreaker to take the temperature of the team, and maybe also introduce them to the design thinking approach.

Regardless of how efficient your processes may be, a human touch is still vital to the long-term success of projects, and can bring a positivity to the table that will impact the way teams look at problems and market opportunities.

The result: transforming the way you work

Although there is rarely, if ever, a perfect time to start something new, it could be argued that now is a great time for businesses to start design thinking. 

With so much change, a variety of organizations – banks, insurance and pharmaceutical companies - are already looking to build their design thinking capabilities, all wanting to be closer to the people they serve

Leadership teams are starting to see that by better understanding their clients and stakeholders, they will be able to make a greater impact and save money later on since it’s less likely they’ll need to make changes in the latter stages of projects.

It’s also worth noting that we are facing a whole host of different design challenges – almost everything has changed a little bit, says Lewrick, but in particular customer behavior. We don’t yet know whether this is will be for a limited period of time, but for now, it’s our new normality and organizations need to be able to solve these new problems in increasingly innovative ways.

If you want to give design thinking a go, Lewrick suggests that learning by doing is the only way. Join a course and work on design challenges he counsels – then read a book! As with most things, practice makes perfect, and success may not seem immediate, but in every iteration, you’ll be honing your skills.

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