23 Aug A Proven Way to Tackle Any Problem
Have you ever been faced with a problem that you know is a priority, but you don’t even know where to begin to tackle it? Think of it this way: Your problem is a terrible knot. It’s seemingly impossible to determine the best approach to move forward. You know that untying the knot will be a cumbersome process, and you may have to face some tough challenges and uncomfortable experiences along the way. So, you delay working on it or maybe avoid it altogether.
We’ve all been there, with problems ranging from small to large, with far-reaching consequences that negatively impact the business. But, regardless of the problem, there is a solution – and a proven way to find it: Design Thinking.
You’ve certainly heard us talk about Design Thinking before (here, here, and here, for example). At Navigate, we use this framework with our clients and to drive innovation internally. Design Thinking’s empathetic approach to problem solving focuses on designing or delivering for value, which results in more effective and holistic outcomes rather than isolated solutions. Its framework provides multiple and frequent opportunities to observe, test, and validate assumptions in an iterative process, so that you can tackle your knot with confidence and rigor. Tools within the framework focus on analyzing the pain points of end users in order to identify a path forward, which means that while you may still have to deal with the uncomfortable process of untying your knot, you will achieve success.
Get Comfortable with Discomfort
That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when faced with a difficult situation? We get it – and Design Thinking tools and principles can help you get through it. Each phase of the Design process will help you better understand your knot and lead you toward potential solutions.
Because the framework is flexible, not linear, you can move at your own pace and go back to the drawing board as needed. This can be frustrating; the iterative process requires patience, but ensures that you’re continually making valuable improvements.
Overall, the process requires a high level of engagement and potentially some difficult conversations, but the discomfort you experience will drive results. If you lead with empathy and accept that the outcome will ultimately be worthwhile, you’ll be better equipped to fully assess the problem you’re facing. Unlike traditional problem solving, this approach accounts for a systematic way of thinking and will open you up to more impactful solutions.
The Value of Empathy
You can’t begin to move forward with a solution or untie the knot until you have a better understanding of it, tailoring your approach to the unique challenge you’re facing.
Design Thinking places a high priority on the perspective of the end user, addressing pain points and improving user experiences with products, tools, processes, and experiences that support their needs, not only the needs of the business. The downstream effects of your decisions that ultimately impact the end user will no longer be done blindly, as you are now equipped to put their needs or value first.
As a result of this focus on empathy, you are able to truly understand the problem that you’re trying to solve. This removes any biases that you may have about the problem and its impact, so you’re more likely to deliver a solution that is meaningful to the end user. There’s no more pulling the wrong string, making the knot tighter, shorter, or more convoluted in the end.
Instead, slowly, but most effectively the knot begins to unfold and is no longer just yours alone to tackle. Because the process involves a wide breadth of stakeholders and collaborators, there is a shared sense of ownership over the solution. In our experience, people sometimes hesitate to wholeheartedly tackle a problem because they don’t feel capable and don’t want to be responsible for any missteps. A Design-led approach mitigates this emotion and fosters buy-in internally and externally throughout the process.
Any Knot, Any Problem
No knot is the same, and the same is true for problems. However, Design Thinking is a tool that can be applied to virtually anything. For example, my colleague Phil Schmoyer recently discussed how Design Thinking helped him to write a blog post!
Leveraging Design Thinking principles can give you the space to really analyze the problem and uncover a way forward. It also doesn’t operate in a vacuum; it’s just one tool in a toolbox. Using the framework in conjunction with others for a hybrid approach only serves to make it more powerful.
Before you know it, your knot will begin to loosen, becoming more flexible and less impossible to solve; it will be better understood by its stakeholders and any solutions will be designed to drive value and impact.
Once you execute Design Thinking for the first time, you’ll discover its power. If you are facing a big knot or business problem and aren’t sure how Design Thinking could help, I want to talk to you! Contact me at [email protected] or 484.824.8795 and I’ll outline what Design Thinking can do for you.