How to think like a designer and be more creative (even if you hate design).
Design thinking can teach anyone to be creative in a few easy steps. It’s a simple process with amazing potential for anyone willing to learn.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” — Dr. Seuss
Creativity is a process and great ideas do not fall from the sky. They develop over time. Learn to fail fast and discover what is possible once you get past your comfort zone.
How to boost creativity.
It doesn’t matter if you are a designer, a programmer, or a project manager, your creativity can fizzle out at any moment. How often have you found yourself in situations at work where you needed to solve a problem or present something to a client and your mind goes blank?
It’s like all your good ideas have gone on vacation and you’re left at your desk trying to scrape something together.
Many people believe that creativity flows in and out. Sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t. It’s up to the gods to bless you with inspiration or to punish you with a blank mind.
If you read articles regularly on Medium then you may have seen the phrase “design thinking” thrown around.
What is design thinking and how can it help you be more creative?
Design thinking is a process used by designers for solving complex problems with creative solutions. It serves as a recipe for whipping up a batch of creativity whenever you are hungry for some fresh ideas. Designers use this process to streamline their ideas and create innovative solutions.
I know what you may be thinking, “Creativity can’t be planned. It needs to happen naturally.”
This is a valid point and it’s worth discussing. Imagine for a moment that things are not always as they seem…
Traditionally, we think of creativity in terms of identity.
That person is creative.
This person is analytical.
We identify people as being certain “types.” Of course, some people are naturally more creative than others. But creativity can manifest itself in many ways.
- Programmers often come up with innovative code to solve a UI/UX problem.
- Designers create new page layouts to make websites more intuitive.
- Project managers come up with creative ways of keeping everyone on time and on budget.
For those of us who are not naturally flowing with creativity, there is still hope. We can use design thinking to develop a creative mindset. We can model creative people and learn how they think and behave to improve our own creativity.
Below are some easy to follow steps to help anyone become more creative. Next time you are stuck on a problem at work, try using the principles of design thinking to boost your creativity.
With practice, you will naturally begin to see solutions and fresh ideas when you look at a problem. This is a way of conditioning your creative mind to get in shape. It’s like pushups for your imagination.
Follow this simple process to be more creative and think like a designer.
Phase 1 — Empathize and Gather
In Phase 1, the goal is to understand the problem you are solving. Embrace an empathetic mindset and immerse yourself in the process. Try to avoid looking at the problem externally. Gain a deep and personal understanding of the challenges and what it’s like to feel their effects.
Phase 2 — Define The Landscape
In Phase 2, get a clear picture of the challenges from the end-user’s perspective, not the provider. Look for patterns and themes. Challenge the common ways of thinking and don’t assume anything.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”– Steve Jobs
Phase 3 — Ideation
In Phase 3, explore possibilities and let your creativity run wild. Exhaust your ideas. Allow yourself to think outside the box and push beyond the obvious solutions.
Some ideation techniques might include brainstorming or sketching ideas on paper. The goal is to encourage creativity and freethinking to promote solving problems in unique ways.
Phase 4 — Rapid Prototyping
Create several simple versions of your solution. Allow people outside the process to test them and give you feedback. The idea is to fail fast and adjust until you get it right. This will help you flesh out ideas and see how they work in reality so you can make your solutions better.
Phase 5 — Test & Deliver
Test a finished product made up of the results of Phase 4. You may discover new ideas that you couldn’t see before. These ideas can help train users or can be saved for a new release in the future.
What happens next?
Design thinking is an ongoing process. Give your solution some time to operate in the real world and pay attention to how people use it. See what works and what you might have missed along the way. This never-ending cycle of feedback can lead to amazing innovations.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michelangelo
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