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  • Writer's pictureSean Grace

Harnessing the Designer's Mind

Throughout my career, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some incredibly talented designers. Whether designing tech products, medical devices, software, games, magazines, architecture, branding or advertising campaigns, these folks all share a common approach to problem solving. They try to avoid making assumptions about a problem’s cause and they take the time to understand deeply the respective user/audience/culture - their needs, wants, beliefs and underlying motivators. They translate behavior into its emotional instigators. 

From there they spend even more time defining what problem it is that they actually need to solve, before ideating any solutions - "what's the clear problem statement?". When it does come time to brainstorm solutions, they're then able to generate a wide palette of innovative design ideas that speak to the heart of the matter. They are the quintessential “out of the box” thinkers and push the edges of applied design. As a result they create clever and effective products, technologies, marketing campaigns and experiences, and are paid accordingly.

“Design Thinking” is an innovation framework that borrows from the designer’s tool kit and applies comparable principles across a wide range of business circumstances. By using a set of analytical techniques such as Empathy and Experience Maps, Rose-Bud-Thorn analyses, The 5 Whys, Iceberg Canvases, Design Sprints and abductive reasoning, individuals and teams learn to be better innovators, inventors, communicators and problem solvers.

DT emphasizes fact gathering and objective observation over inference and presumption. The framework reduces personal or institutional bias when analyzing a problem in order to create fresh, innovative solutions that connect more closely with the problem itself, and more importantly, with the humans being solved for.

DT’s solutions-based schema is ruled by three core considerations:

  • Human Centered - is it desirable? - do real people need or want this solution?

  • Technical - is it feasible? - is the solution technically practical?

  • Business - is it viable? - is the solution on-brand, sustainable and profitable?

DT typically comprises five stages:

  • Empathy - objective observation

  • Define - identify what you observed, infer what it means

  • Ideate - brainstorm solutions

  • Prototype - create models of your best ideas

  • Test - bring your ideas into the real world for feedback

For creative business leaders, The Design Thinking framework is an excellent method by which to break free from conventional and limiting mindsets and help develop teams with more innovative, and empathetic, problem solving skills. 

To explore how Design Thinking can benefit your organization, please message me or visit -


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