Every day we are faced with challenges in both our personal and professional lives. Our ability to solve these problems is essential. Design thinking is a process that blends analytical and creative thinking to help us address and resolve them.
Design thinking, a buzzword created and popularized by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, a global design firm, is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for business success.
I have used Design Thinking throughout my entire career. Taking the IDEO U series of courses this year enabled me to receive the Foundations of Design Thinking certificate from IDEO U and helped clarify my understanding of the process and hone my skills.
I received a B.A. in Sociology and an MBA in Marketing. My background in both social sciences and marketing helped me develop creative (design) thinking and analytic skills. Both have both proved invaluable in my personal life and career.
In creative thinking, you start by compiling information from personal thoughts, collaborating with others, and establishing theories, rules and procedures. By using all the information at hand, you develop new ideas. The creative thinking process — as opposed to solely an analytical one — is imaginative and intuitive, and may inspire more than one answer, using right-brain thinking.
Analysis is the process of examining and interpreting information. It’s the ability to look at different pieces of information and understand how they relate. This method of parsing information helps with decision-making and problem-solving. Analysis is a rational thought process based on probability and logical thinking. It uses left brain thinking to elicit a single answer.
We use both creative thinking and analysis to reach conclusions. For instance, you might analyze a situation to understand where it stems from then tap into your creative thinking for new ways to problem solve. Afterward, thinking analytically about the conclusions can reveal the most suitable option.
My bachelor’s degree in liberal arts introduced me to world literature, novels, documentaries, short stories, poetry and essays, and I learned how to write critical essays along the way. I chose topics, outlined arguments, and then produced essays or presentations articulating my thoughts. It’s this process that helps students learn how to analyze what they’ve read — and then think creatively to form conclusions, a skill set that continues to serve them long after they graduate.
In February, 2018, I was asked to be an Alumnus in Residence at my alma mater, Villanova University, and a guest lecturer at College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where I reiterated the adaptability of a liberal arts education, such as mine and be flexible and open to a variety of career options
In an article for CNN Money, Ernest Suarez speaks highly of the creative thinking and analytical skills associated with a B.A. in English. Suarez says, “Businesses tell us they like to hire liberal arts majors because they feel that they can think. They’ve got the writing and analytical skills they need. The rest they can be trained to learn.”
Why is this important? In the workforce, employees can apply the process of creative (design) thinking and analysis to many tasks — such as presentations, projects or problem-solving. In business, employers value employees with the critical thinking skills liberal arts degrees bring to the table.
Today, this growing trend is changing fundamental business practices. It’s shifting the way the C-suite hire and how teams operate.
The appeal of design thinking lies in its ability to generate new and surprising forms of creative teamwork and inspire innovation across all industries