Defining your problem statement/design challenge is one of the most important steps of the entire design thinking process. It will guide your ideation process (stage 3) and will have major implications for the solutions you generate. Continue reading How to Frame Your Design Challenge
It’s hard to turn a corner in the world of social innovation and entrepreneurship without hearing about the design thinking process. If you’re thinking about creating a start-up, product, service, or anything really, this process can be a game-changer.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick overview:
What is design thinking, exactly?
Design thinking is a process for innovating solutions to problems. It’s a methodology for creative action that begins with learning directly from the people you’re designing for, identifying opportunities, and prototyping possible solutions for feedback, and then bringing viable solutions to market.
Within the steps of Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test, practitioners can identify the right problems, ask appropriate questions, generate more ideas, and select the best answers. Stanford’s d.school offers a free 90-minute virtual crash course on this methodology.
Designing for humans
In 2009, IDEO launched the Human-Centered Design Toolkit, which provides tools, methods, and guidance on the design thinking process for innovators who are designing for human beings. Which, technically, should be all innovators.
Okay, so you’re ready to get started. You’re excited about the prospect of catalyzing a uniquely awesome career of tackling big effing problems (re: saving the world) like the hero you always secretly (or not so secretly ) knew you were. There’s just one issue: where do you start?
The Stanford Center for Social Innovation made the video above on this very topic (this is a marketing video for their program, but there are plenty of ways to get started without a fancy degree).
The world is chock-full of issues worth addressing. To start thinking about issues you could address, consider the issues that have popped up in your own life. What problems have gotten you really riled up? Also, step out into your community. Is there someone, or maybe a group of people, who have a problem you think you could help solve?
So we started at the personal level, then moved up to the community level. But what about the global scale?
These goals come from the internationally agreed upon 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Heads of State and Governments in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a new plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets at its core. I highly recommend you look into each of these goals on their website.
Okay, so now you’ve thought about the world of concerns that you could potentially delve into if you so desired. Now let’s take a moment to consider how you could start problem-solving.
Here’s a great resource from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society about problem-solving that I highly recommend: “Problem Solving, Human-Centered Design, and Strategic Processes” by Paul Brest, Nadia Roumani, and Jason Bade. This essay sets out a framework for integrating conventional problem solving and strategic planning techniques with Human-Centered Design (HCD) to help organizations improve their understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and increase their creativity in developing solutions.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments regarding your process for getting started on social innovation, for problem identification and selection!