How I implemented design thinking at work… (tips to try new ideas in the workplace)

How do you get buy in from work on a new thought process? 
Is it possible to change the systems you have in place?
Will they work with me or shut it down?

All are questions I asked myself this morning as I prepared to test a new way forward.

Background (scroll down for 4 steps to try out a new idea at work):

Six months ago, I was exposed to a new way of thinking. How I came across this new process, I cannot recall. This wonderful idea I’m referring to is design thinking.

Do what now? What sort of strange phrase is that?

To define said phrase, let us lean on Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO. “

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

Since first hearing the phrase six months ago, I have immersed myself into learning this new ideal in an effort to better understand it. While it sounded cool, it also sounded too good to be true.

This is where I broke down and googled “design thinking Nashville” in hopes of finding something useful. Low and behold I found a Meetup centered around the entire ideal. (Learn more about that group here.)

In each monthly meetup, they take on a design challenge. This has varied from “what is the perfect wallet” to “how do we make a video go viral”, from there we walk through the design thinking process.

Well, months have passed and I’ve been looking for more ways to incorporate this newfound process into my life. And today…I found the perfect opportunity:

What should the marketing plan be for our next event?

The moment had finally arrived and thanks to the work I’ve done these past several months, I was ready to shine.

4 steps to try out a new idea at work.

1. Find someone at work who is willing to listen.

Thankfully, I have a direct supervisor that listens. He doesn’t over react, interrupt you while you’re speaking, or anything of that nature. Instead, he waits until you finish and asks questions! He doesn’t give his opinion straight away. He waits until he understands a bit more, before revealing his thoughts. If they see you care, they’ll hear you out.

2. Learn and practice this new idea, concept, or whatever as much as possible.

I remember attending my first meetup. Complete transparency, I was fearful of attending because it was awkward and weird. “Oh hi, I’m Taylor…I saw this meetup online…” What?! It literally felt like a blind date, except with this I’m unable to Facebook stalk the person I’m going out with beforehand. Travesty.

Fear aside, I couldn’t be more thankful I took—what now looks like—a small risk.

Let your curiosity take over and learn, read, and practice as much as you can. The other major aspect is meeting and talking to whoever will listen in an effort to find the others.

3. Wait for that perfect opportunity.

Don’t be discouraged when you’re in meetings and know there’s a better way than this. I was disappointed countless times whenever we had these brainstorming meetings that continued to go nowhere.

I’d constantly go to that same supervisor and mention how it could be done differently, but it just never panned out.

It wasn’t until today. When I had my own project, where I called my own meeting, and was able to implement my own process.

4. Repeat.

Now I’m not sure if what happened today will go anywhere. In fact, it certainly may be the last time we do such a thing.

But you best believe I’ll be starting at step 1 tomorrow, gearing up for the process all over again. Not because I particularly enjoy this grind, but because I believe in this idea and that it’s worth fighting for.

Start step 1 so that when your “today” happens, you’ll actually be ready.

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