Design Thinking is a key element in the innovation process that we utilize here at the Center for Innovation, not only as a method for problem solving, but as an approach to analyzing problems in new contexts. It combines empathy, creativity, and rational analysis to build up ideas while approaching new challenges and problems. The goal is not only to work as a team to explore as many solutions as possible, but to create an atmosphere that is free from the fear of failure. Here are the five key elements you can use for great Design Thinking!
To be people-focused is a fundamental part of design philosophy. If health care organizations are to innovate successfully, particularly in the area of patient experiences, they must continually focus on meeting patient needs. Teams that are responsible for innovating in patient services must consistently concentrate on first finding ways of meeting patient needs, then doing the analysis to understand its impact and affordability.
Empathy is also a fundamental attitude that informs the discipline of design. It is both an attitude and a skill. As an attitude, empathy involves placing a priority on understanding emotion. As a skill, it means using nonjudgmental, inquisitive means of accessing this understanding. Sometimes, this can be as simple as posing the question to yourself: I wonder what she was feeling when that happened?
A natural curiosity can enhance the design success of health services. Although some people are more curious than others, curiosity can be developed as a core skill of innovation. As you undertake observations, continually questioning what is going on around you is one way of arousing curiosity. What just happened? Why did she do that? Why did he stack all of those things there? How did he decide where to sit?
At the Center for Innovation, we put together a team of people with diverse perspectives, many of whom have little experience working in health care. This brings a degree of innocence and freshness to our approach. Even experienced health care workers can trick themselves into a similar state of innocence, by approaching an observation with a “child’s eye.”
Humility is sometimes hard to come by, but it is an attitude that will allow you to let go of preconceived notions about what is possible. It is sometimes the key attitude in helping people see what is unfolding in front of the as they observe.