Design Thinking Outside the Box

Go outside the box with Design Thinking, a creative problem-solving methodology that business leaders are applying to their workplaces.

“Design thinking is a creative problem-solving methodology,” explains Michael A. Roberto, a researcher who helps business leaders apply design thinking in the workplace and the author of Unlocking Creativity.

It has two distinguishing features, according to Roberto:

Empathy: This human-centered approach focuses on gaining a deep understanding of the user experience, including pain points.

Experimentation: Iterate often to refine your ideas. Instead of deliberating endlessly, frequently test your ideas, get user feedback and adapt solutions to address any concerns.

Unexpected Uses of Design Thinking

Bank of America launched the Keep the Change program. All debit card purchases are rounded up to the next dollar, with the extra cents transferred to a savings account. The idea was based on customer interviews and observations that this DIY checkbook-balancing practice helped families on tight budgets save money.

Northwestern University graduates developed SwipeSense, a wearable device that dispenses hand sanitizer while transmitting usage data wirelessly. The device improves hospital caregiver handwashing habits in an effort to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

The San Francisco Opera (pictured above) wanted to attract new, younger crowds and kickstart experimental thinking about uses for a new theater, so it partnered with Stanford University design students to host an event called Barely Opera. The event featured a live DJ, opera-themed cocktails and costumes to try on.

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