Design thinking holds the key
A global survey of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency for the future.* A creative and analytical mind can collaborate with talent from various disciplines such as arts, engineering, and social sciences and combine the
Incorporating design thinking in the curriculum can help create more imaginative and creative leaders to drive an uncertain and volatile future, believes Sanjay Dhande, Avantika University.
Education is at a crossroads the world over, and a real transformation in our approach towards it is much needed. Educators are looking for inspiration and seeking a new direction to revamp the education realm.
The concept of design thinking is now influencing educators across the globe. It is a methodology—not necessarily exclusive for designers—that helps people understand and develop creative ways to solve a particular issue. This could also help students to realize the future
they can create for themselves by taking into consideration multiple frameworks. With an optimistic and proactive approach, it will allow them to design their participation and experiences.
Those capable of applying design thinking can tackle any difficult situation with ease. They have a keen sense of observation and an analytical mind. Once they gather relevant information and gain a holistic perspective of the situation, they then define or redefine the problem and understand it through this definition.
The next phase of ideation is critical in design thinking. The process of ideation and exploration of solution space is necessary to develop design thinking ability. There are several ways of ideation. Brainstorming is one. The ‘six thinking hat’ technique of Edward de Bono is another. The process of slicing the problem into smaller units and then synthesizing the solution from each one of them with subsequent integration of individual solutions into a single solution is another way of looking at ideation for a potential solution.
The process of ideation requires a creative inclination. Therefore, design thinking can also be considered as creative thinking. The ideation process throws up several solutions and possibilities. A process of analysis is required to evaluate and re-synthesize these in such a way that the outcome is a perfect blend, which emerges out of the synthesis-analysis-resynthesis process.
The process of design thinking does not stop with the generation of ideas and finding a definitive solution. The next important step is implementation. This is where many individuals fail. This process of implementation requires precise planning, better assessment of resources, precise identification of possible bottlenecks, and finally a process of monitoring and supervision (upon implementation).
The overall impact of successful implementation shows that even a weak idea could get stronger during the execution phase and help in addressing the problem.
The process is not complete without a proper evaluation of the implementation. The process of assessment should be frank and forthright, and provide potential feedback to the ideation for further improvement. The process of refinement goes on so as to continue to improve or optimize the solution. Finally, a day comes when the idea has to die. A new set of ideas with a revised definition of the problem emerges, and the design thinking goes on.
Unfortunately, in India, the spirit of creative thinking or design thinking is at a nascent stage. The Licence Raj or Permit Raj had dampened the innate spirit of innovation, creativity, and ideation. However, with liberalization, increased competition, and a new spirit of startup culture, one can clearly realize that a new generation of societal captains is emerging in the country. These leaders— in manufacturing, software technology, and even in education—are transforming creative ideas to address the unique problems faced by Indian society. It is clear that the spirit of design thinking is no longer restricted to product design or communication design, but is now invading all walks of life.
Future leaders of society will belong to this school of thought. Leadership is the key element in all social sectors. There are many attributes required for an effective leader. The ability to envision the future and work on creative ways to bring about change is a fundamental element. For this, future leaders would need design thinking capabilities. And such a spirit can be inculcated by the education process. The reality though is different—the spirit of synthesis decreases as one advances from primary to secondary to tertiary education. It is necessary to ensure that the spirit of creative and design thinking is emphasized across all stages of education. The formal education system must prevail as a centre of learning for both students and faculty, and to ensure this it requires a 360-degree transformation.
For the next two decades, design thinking concept will be crucial as the jobs of today might not exist in future. To create leaders of tomorrow, a design thinking-led education will help develop different levels of creative knowledge, skills, and mindsets. It will culminate in the feeling of creative confidence and can contribute to both development and management of future-oriented society. Design thinking should be woven into the learning model for generating the creative confidence.
Some of the traits that must be developed as a continuous process for developing future leaders are:
■ Willingness to explore new alternatives
■ Ability to confront a situation
■ Enthusiasm to observe and collect information
■ Ability to define, redefine, and understand the problem
■ Ability to ideate and explore solution space
■ Careful analysis of the solutions and selection of appropriate idea
■ Implementation of an id ea with full rigour
■ Evaluation of the implementation process
■ Knowing when to abandon an idea
A human-centered, collaborative, experimental, and optimistic approach, design thinking in education can help in grooming imaginative and creative leaders who will drive the future. ■
The process of ideation requires a creative inclination. Therefore, design thinking can also be considered as creative thinking. The ideation process throws up several solutions and possibilities.
The ability to envision the future and work on creative ways to bring about change is a fundamental element. For this, future leaders would need design thinking capabilities.