How design thinking can boost your organisation

by L&D07 Nov 2016
Design thinking is a methodology – not exclusive for designers – that helps people understand and develop creative ways to solve a specific issue.

Typically, this consists of several elements: exploring and reframing problems; asking ‘what if?’ questions; adopting a user-centred point of view; experimenting during the product/service development process; and tolerating ambiguity and failure.

Research shows that this is fast becoming an indispensable organisational discipline, able to help people develop creative ways to solve a broad range of business issues.

An article recently published in IEDP points out that design thinking can also be applied very effectively to corporate learning and development.

In a recent survey by Deloitte of global human capital trends, 84% of business leaders called for improved organisational learning as a top priority and 44% said it’s urgent.

This comes at a time when transformative forces are reshaping the workplace and according to Deloitte: “executives see a need to redesign the organisation…driving change for both HR functions and the organisations they serve.”

Across organisations, the L&D challenges are radically different from those faced by previous generations of leaders.

Consequently, the potential solutions may need to be radical too – and this an area where design thinking can help, whether it’s by introducing new innovations or by helping organisations totally rethink their corporate L&D.

As Josh Bersin, from Bersin by Deloitte, explains in the Harvard Business Review:

“Unfortunately, the problem is not one of designing better programs or simply replacing or upgrading learning platforms. Rather, there is something more fundamental going on — a need to totally rethink corporate L&D, to shift the focus to design thinking and the employee experience.”

He added that in today’s “always-on, distracting work environment”, people simply don’t take the time to learn unless it feels relevant and it’s embedded in the work.

“When there are thousands of videos and other types of content available online, we need an experience map to help people find and apply just what they need,” he wrote.

“I know many of you are frustrated with the learning programs and experiences you have at work. Ask your L&D department to consider applying design thinking to those problems. I think you’ll find a whole new world of learning will emerge.”