April 28, 2021 | By Diana Chapoy Callahan and Dustin Ziegler
Designing training solutions amidst a global pandemic has made us think more about our audience: who they really are, what they’re going through, what they need and how they need it. Even more so in the digital age, we feel the human need to connect—not only on a professional level, but on a personal level. And that’s where design thinking comes in.
What is design thinking?
Design thinking is a creative and dynamic human-centered approach to problem-solving where real human connection is the key to success.
Why should you implement design thinking?
Implementing real change into an organization takes effort and time. And let’s be honest, it can also be expensive. The pandemic has produced one of the most disruptive times in recent history for companies, regardless of industry. Learning and development (L&D) leaders, including those in human resources, are facing increased challenges around attrition and technology. Engagement levels also continue to drop as employers inundate their workers with online training, meetings and webinars.
Can a methodology shift positively impact these issues? To start, we need to understand the problems we are trying to solve. Today, people want to feel less anxious and more connected while dealing with increasing responsibilities and tasks throughout the day. Traditional training programs, designed from a top-down or Waterfall approach, are not meeting learners' needs. Instead, workforce development training needs to evolve to meet learners where they are in their journey. L&D professionals can use design thinking to create a solution-based approach focused on what employees want to learn and how they want to learn, as well. Design thinking, at its core, is a methodology focused on purpose and business goals. The benefits this new approach brings are emotional value and increased productivity through a collaborative, efficient and iterative design process.
Will design thinking provide a better ROI?
Design thinking helps us find the simplest path to reach the desired outcome and often provides us with a completely different way of thinking about the problem. As we alluded to earlier, the first step is to understand the current situation and what you are trying to solve for or achieve. Only then can we jump to possible solutions. This approach helps you gain insights into how your organization thinks and behaves, ultimately leading to designing a tailored product. By understanding this context, you will get a sense of what a successful outcome looks like and the metrics required to drive toward that goal. The value comes from the up-front analysis and iterative approach along the way, saving costly fixes and redesign down the road. Ultimately, this allows you to release better quality products more often.
Who can benefit from design thinking?
Before we dive into the design-thinking process, it is important to know that design thinking is not only for designers or developers. Design thinking is for anyone in a creative position, from freelancers to company leaders, who wants to make a change in the way they come up with solutions to improve a specific product or service. Everyone can benefit from design thinking on a professional and personal level.
What is the design-thinking framework?
The original design-thinking approach consists of five main stages:
Over time, people develop patterns of thinking that help us quickly apply the same actions in similar situations. For example, when we wake up in the morning, we shower, brush our teeth and eat breakfast. We do things the same way using thinking patterns so we don’t have to relearn things. The same process happens at work. Most of us have done our job for so many years that we are used to doing things the same way. This is perhaps because that has worked for us in the past, or because we have been through similar situations and automatically use those patterns of thinking to address problems or challenges the same way.