What Your Team is Missing About Design Thinking

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The design thinking process is well documented and established. In fact, our most recent podcast guest, Wayne Li, was at the famous Stanford d.school when they helped create and document design thinking in the first place.

At a high level, design thinking is when a diverse group of people with varying expertise can work harmoniously, steeped in a culture of trust, to make cool things (products, solutions, services) happen.

However, even with a solid understanding of design thinking and efficient design practices in general, many businesses still miss the mark. Why? Because they forget two related things:

  1. Validation loops are essential to great product outcomes
  2. Flexibility in your development process is required

By nature, design thinking is cyclical, not linear.

The goal is to find the best possible solution or product to solve a problem, right? That requires gathering your diverse thinkers and brainstorming expansively. Then, going back to the ideas raised in your brainstorming session and examining them through a critical, deductive lens.

You may need to go back and forth and round and round (hence the validation loops) to land on the best possible solution.

See how design thinking needs to be flexible to work effectively? Yes, there are prescribed phases. But ultimately, your team has to be willing to evaluate what’s in front of them at any given time, and even take a step backward before pushing on.

And therein lies the problem. It’s hard for people to work in this non-linear way. It goes against our neurological instincts.

In our latest podcast, host J Cornelius and guest Wayne Li talk more on optimizing your design processes from a human perspective.

Topics Include:

  • How those in academia (which brought us design thinking) approach design challenges
  • What football and improv comedy have in common — and what they tell us about how we should handle projects
  • How working as a unit — not in departmental silos — leads to innovative ideas

About Wayne Li

Wayne Li is a professor of design and engineering at one of the world’s premier design schools, Georgia Tech. There, he leads joint teaching initiatives and advances interdisciplinary collaboration between mechanical engineering and industrial design.

Prior to becoming a professor at Georgia Tech, Li worked for Pottery Barn in innovation and market expansion. Impressively, he also taught for Stanford University’s design program — the same school that first ideated design thinking.

Overall, Wayne generates significant profits, expands market penetration, and drives innovation in all his roles. His strong brand management, product differentiation, and design strategy experiences are unmatched.

Learn more about Wayne Li and connect on LinkedIn.



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