I’m Not an Artist, But…

Written by Melissa Estable

July 19, 2016

Let’s start with the premise that we are all creative.

Whether you’re an economist, baker or athlete, we all use some creativity in our day to day lives. It actually doesn’t matter if you got a D+ in art class or didn’t make the cut for the high school play.

Creativity is a doorway to inner life, to imagination. Why bother to step through that doorway? This is the place where meaning lives. This is at the root of human connection, empathy, health and confidence. Design thinking is a human-centred, systems based approach to your work. By stepping back and exploring with an open mind, we expand the methods in our toolkit and find more meaningful ways to collaborate with one another.

Here are 3 ways for applying the principles of design thinking to the way we work.

A responsive, flexible organizational culture will develop. Foster a nurturing environment where ideas are spoken freely. What does that support look like? Know that it’s rare to get it right the first time. We need to tolerate failure and acknowledge the cost of innovation. Failure is about learning and learning is a lifelong pursuit.

What’s the ROI of creativity? How do you estimate the value of better client/tenant/citizen experience? Ideas can be tricky to rationalize or defend. We have to be empowered to take chances – without logic, without argument. This is outside of the value proposition of the building itself. The iterative process of design provides no guarantee of an outcome.

Use models, sketches, diagrams, mapping and physical objects. By exploring issues fluidly, in a nonlinear way, surprising associations can come up. Spreadsheets bring us into a linear frame of mind that doodling doesn’t.

These 3 design approaches will provide new tools, creative solutions and imaginative processes that engage us more fully in our work. For this to really fly, leaders needs to value exploration over rule-following.

Sounds more like fun than work…

Business people and puzzle pieces on wooden table, teamwork concept The ‘laboratory’ generates an open-minded culture. Like any tool, it is appropriate for some work and not others. When do we use design thinking?

People need help making sense of complex systems. Modern business is multi-faceted and at Cahdco, we work in a multi-stakeholder environment. Who is our audience? How can we edit and exhibit restraint? Where do we need to simplify and focus? What are the desires, aspirations, engagement and experience as we work towards our goal? When we reach a roadblock, how can we engage in collaborative problem-solving?

Design thinking is great here. We use it to cut through complexity, to dream of future possibilities and for, our favorite buzzword, innovation.

For the challenges of organizational growth, for optimizing, streamlining, coordination practices; these stable business operations require a different approach. Here is where we embrace linear thought.

In conclusion, making room for right and left-brained activities at work can be rewarding. Where do you see more design-thinking in your day to day life?

Melissa Estable

Project Manager

July 19, 2016