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How to sell design thinking - a 6-step guide

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How to sell design thinking - a 6-step guide

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Many organizations struggle to use an approach like design thinking for innovation. Some fear that its open-ended character does not produce actionable outcome, others do not find internal buy-in. We have 6 hands-on tips and strategies how to convince your organization to give it a try.

Many organizations struggle to use an approach like design thinking for innovation. Some fear that its open-ended character does not produce actionable outcome, others do not find internal buy-in. We have 6 hands-on tips and strategies how to convince your organization to give it a try.

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How to sell design thinking - a 6-step guide

  1. 1. How to Sell Design Thinking A 6-step plan how to smuggle in a human-centered approach into your organization.
  2. 2. Do you spend massive amounts of time struggling with the resistance or even outright criticism in your organization around this crazy method called DESIGN THINKING? For many organizations, Design Thinking can feel pretty radical and internal buy-in is not really an easy job. But hey, we have 6 hands-on tips and strategies how to “smuggle” in humancentered innovation a.k.a. Design Thinking into your organization. Ready? Let’s go!
  3. 3. HOW TO SELL DESIGN THINKING. 1 Wipe the Slate Of course, we all know that Design Thinking is the coolest, most cutting-edge, jumpstart-innovationspurring thing in the world. Problem is, your colleagues have either never heard of it, never worked with it or they are engineers and controllers who prefer a tight plan over letting things happen. Why not start by a)  Emptying your own presumptions about Design Thinking as the cure-all tool for innovation. Simply talk of a human-centered approach when talking to newbies. b) Developing empathy for your organizations concerns. For example , it can be helpful to start a document in which you note down concerns and prepare adequate answers and arguments you can use.
  4. 4. 2 Small Commitments. No, we absolutely do not advice you to give up and only show minimal commitment in convincing the skeptical engineer guy from R&D of how cool DT is. Why not start by a)  Giving people who are supposed to work with Design Thinking tiny tasks to get them started. Tell them to write down one sentence per week describing an interesting observation they made at work or privately and send it to you every Monday. b) Surprising your future fellow Design Thinkers by short kick-off sessions. No full-day workshop but 1hr-miniworkshops on observing, interviewing or writing an insight.
  5. 5. 3 It’s the Space, Stupid. Many people have the fantasy that to get in a creative mood, any Design Thinking event needs to happen in a fancy loft. However, even small “spatial alterations” can get people interested and maybe reduce skepticism. Why not start by a)  Setting up a public idea table where anyone can leave and have a look at interesting pictures, magazines, objects, sketches, notes relating to your project. Or you even leave prototyping material like pens, modeling clay, Lego bricks etc. b) Asking project members to decorate their office walls or their desk with (imagined) user images. This way, even other colleagues might become curious.
  6. 6. 4 Buzz & Desire Let’s face it: the most interesting things are the ones we either have heard of or which we cannot get. You need to spark buzz on the hallways and in coffee corners and create an aura of scarcity around Design Thinking projects in your organization. Why not start by a)  Spreading even the smallest successes of your DT projects through all available channels – official or informal. b) Support any rumors that DT has “MA” (Management Attention) and that not everyone can participate in DT projects. Collect and drop any positive anecdote you hear about how cool it is to get involved.
  7. 7. 5 All about Fun. What?? This is not fun, this is about coming up with products and services that sell! But who says that fun excludes success? Numerous studies prove that a relaxed and fun atmosphere contribute to idea generation. Why not start by a)  Making clear that Design Thinking sessions offer a chance to break free from usual office work through their atmosphere, openness and playful character. Anyone not fancying this, is wrong in the first place anyway. b) Be sure to serve good coffee, tea and (healthy ;) snacks. c)  Emphasize that the more intense and longer sessions will happen at cool and cozy off-site locations and that they include fabulous after work activities.
  8. 8. 6 Partners in Crime. Design Thinking is a deeply collaborative effort. And that’s not only valid for the method as such but also for spreading and promoting it within your organization. Only if you manage to build a convinced fellowship for your cause you will get buy-in. Why not start by a)  Develop a plan and a strategy to gain the support of 5 people from the central levels of your company (bottom to top) b) Do so by explaining that this simply resonates some of the most inherent Design Thinking principles anyway: collaboration, adaptation and listening. Make clear that this is a team process and everyone’s voice will be heard.
  9. 9. So why the hell should we do Design Thinking? How the consumer described it… What the engineer built... How marketing presented it... Sometimes all good advice is not enough and you need to get visual. If our tips still didn’t convince the reluctant engineer guy, it is time to show him this! What the consumer paid… How the hotline helped... What the consumer wanted!
  10. 10. Need A Design Thinker? rene@coalisten.com

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