Design Thinking is for dreaming, imagining possibilities to address wicked problems. Why do some dreams come to fruition, while others do not?  Well is it what happens after you dream that makes the difference.  So, before I lead a design thinking effort for a business, I like to make sure they are ready for what happens next. I have been thinking a lot about this recently due to some work I have been doing with clients and a recent article I read on an unlikely NBA star, 5’4″ Muggsy Bogues.  He defied the laws of height in basketball by playing point guard in the NBA for 14 years after a successful college career at Wake Forest University.  He had big dreams, but that was not what made the difference.  In the same way, we can come up with wild ideas through design thinking, but that alone will not make the difference. Three things to consider: 1)DREAM BIG.  We too often limit ourselves and our business by thinking too small.  Design thinking is an incredible asset in dreaming big and building excitement around those dreams. 2)Believe.  Once you dream it, you have to believe in it, even if others think an idea is crazy.  When you believe, you make choices to make it happen. You build it into your strategy.  You may need to do some initial vetting to make sure your assumptions around your Dream are understood; but once done, you have to commit to it and not relent in believing. 3)Do.  To make a dream a reality is hard work.  Once you have believed and committed to a dream, you have to roll up your sleeves and do the work.  This is a major area where I see businesses fall off. They dream it. They talk about it, but they don’t put the actions in place to make it a reality. You need to have this part of the plan primed and ready to go before you start dreaming with design thinking. Some things to consider in advance of launching a design thinking effort:

  • Have Senior Management sponsorship lined up for actions coming out of the design thinking work.
  • Identify a single point of contact who will take the design thinking outcomes forward and lead the doing before you finalize the dreaming plan.
  • Identify a core team to work with the SPOC after the session and have funds ready for their use as they progress the newborn ideas into business building ideas.
  • Have the Sponsor available to the core team/SPOC for informal reviews/input as they work the ideas.
  • Coach the Sponsor on how to engage with a team advancing design thinking output (building and helping vs. evaluating)

As Muggsy’s mom put so clearly to the pint sized player: “You can accomplish anything you desire. You have to dream it first. A lot of people say they want to be something, but the activity and behavior doesn’t indicate they’re going to do it. You have to be a doer and constantly take steps to make your dream a reality.” 

If you want design thinking to impact your business, then take a play from Muggsy’s Playbook and make sure your activity and behavior match your dreams.

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