The key to solving any problem life brings you is design thinking. It’s a five-step process usually applied by people who are trying to solve a social problem, meet a customer need, or create a new product. For instance, design and innovation consulting firm IDEO exemplifies design thinking as it seeks to create solutions to improve the efficiency and utility of products and systems around the world.
According to Dr. Bernard Roth, a founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford and author of The Achievement Habit, empathy is at the crux of design thinking. “Design thinking on the highest level is a way of reframing the way you look at the way you look at the world and deal with issues, and the main thing is this idea of empathy,” Dr. Roth tells The New York Times. “If you have tried something and it hasn’t worked, then you’re working on the wrong problem.” We’ve distilled the process of design thinking into five simple steps. Scroll through and prepare to be a master problem solver in 2016.
Step 1: Empathize. Learn what the real issues are that need to be solved. Dr. Roth uses the example of a person who wants to find a life partner. Empathy doesn’t just mean empathizing with others. It’s also about empathizing with yourself. Ask yourself What would finding a partner or spouse do for me? In this case, Dr. Roth’s hypothetical person wants to find a partner to procure companionship.
Step 2: Define the problem. In this case, the real problem isn’t finding a partner, it’s finding companionship.
Step 3: Ideate. Brainstorm. Make lists, write down ideas, and generate possible solutions for your real problem. In Dr. Roth’s case, companionship can come from taking classes, joining a club, meeting friends online, getting a pet, or joining a running group.
Step 4: Build a prototype or create a plan. In an attempt to find companionship, the person in Dr. Roth’s scenario plans to adopt a dog and walk that dog several times each day, visiting a dog park at least once a day.
Step 5: Test the idea and get feedback from others. In this case, Dr. Roth advises testing the dog theory and asking friends with dogs for advice about the best dog parks and walking groups.
By going through the five-step design thinking process, “finding a spouse now becomes simply one of many possible ways to find companionship,” Dr. Roth says. “By changing the question, I have altered my point of view and dramatically expanded the number of possible solutions.”
So what are you waiting for? Start design thinking your way through your lingering problems. Shop Dr. Roth’s book below to get your head in the game.
Have you tried design thinking? Has it worked for you? Share your thoughts about this alternative method with us in the comments.