What's not to like about design thinking?

What you don’t like about design thinking may be even more important than what you like.  Because tapping into creativity, doing things differently, thinking out of the box can be, well, uncomfortable.  That’s why we don’t do them in the first place. 

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Take brainstorming.  Design thinking encourages wild ideas—because it’s much easier to get from an off-the-wall idea to a useful one than from a business-as-usual idea to a breakthrough idea.  But most of us are so used to censoring our wild ideas that putting them out there feels embarrassing and awkward.  In my initial design thinking workshop experiences, I found myself constantly comparing my ideas to others.  Mostly negatively, but sometimes—ha!—my idea was definitely the best.  Until something better came along from some other group that had gone down a different path.  Dang, humbled again.

And there, perhaps, is the real juice of the experience.  New and creative ideas can lead to key shifts in perspective.  At the same time, however, you’re getting a great opportunity to notice what makes you uncomfortable, and why.  Maybe it’s comparing ideas, maybe it’s some of the wilder tangents your team goes on, maybe it’s a process that seems nonlinear, or maybe it’s other people’s need to keep things in the box that gets your goat. 

Sitting with that discomfort, whatever it is, while the process unfolds around you, is all part of the learning.  What is it that holds you back from stepping out of the box?  What holds your organization back?  Whatever it is, it’s likely to be something you’re so used to that you don’t even realize how you hold back.  Until some crazy idea throws it in your face.