Design thinking for winning teams


We have leaders who love to be in meetings discussing the previous minutes and regurgitating an old set of rituals and rules. Is there thinking in that?

Yes, but that can be merely linear thinking. When leaders really start to think, the known ritual is destroyed, and the company enjoys self-cannibalization and it then sees the need to re-design. It is always better to kill the old system yourself than to be killed by change. That elicits thinking leaders and prepared teams.

Some leaders are entangled in daily activities. That gets them flustered and keeps them in a roller coaster situation. Just like a rollercoaster, they are moving, but they have no progress. They are busy, but there is no business. Let’s look at design thinking for teams in your organisation. Remember, we live in a globally competitive and complex world. The change and development of technology have redefined how we should do work, which demands a new set of skills, and one of those skills is called design thinking.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a way of solving complex problems and bringing solutions using a five-step model. Designers use creative ways of thinking and break away from the norm. In her publication, Valerie Shute (2012) says design thinking is defined as an "analytic and creative process that engages a person in opportunities to experiment, create and prototype models, gather feedback, and redesign." This is a process, and according to Rikke Friis Dam and Teo Yu Siang (2022), it “takes you into the unknown and sometimes uncomfortable territory. Team members of a design thinking need to be open-minded, curious, collaborative, and willing to have their assumptions challenged.” Design thinking is made of five components; empathise, define, ideate, prototype, and test.


This is the first stage of the design thinking model, one gets to know about his users. Research is critical at this stage, where one delves into the user's specific needs, wishes, and problems that must be solved with precision. Remember, business is in people, so get to know them. That makes it easy to know their problems.


The second process of the design thinking process involves defining the problem and interpreting findings from the first stage (empathise). At this stage, the leader also picks patterns in a problem found. The leader has to formulate a clear problem statement that is user-centric. Remember, when the problem is defined it becomes simpler to scout around for possible solutions.


This is the solution formulation stage. After having defined the problem, now the leader has to think of as many solutions as possible to solve the defined problem in stage two. This is a brainstorming session.


This is a stage for learning and experimentation. You test the solution picked in stage three and make pilot programs/ models or cheap versions of your ideas. Simply, at this stage, you test solutions and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. At this stage, you accept the best solution to be used or reject a model because it is not the best solution to a particular problem. Those limitations in a prototype also help you redesign or improve it.


After the prototype stage, you then test a product or service using real users. This is the final stage, even though redesigning can still be employed to align with specific needs from your test results or recommendations. This is a continuous process of learning using all five stages. So, what does this demand of the leader and his teams?


Communication is critical as you co-create with your teams.  Information and knowledge must always be made available to team players or by teams. In addition, the leader and teams must constantly and symbiotically communicate their ideas to each other.  Without good communication, the five-stage process of the design thinking model might fail. 

Creative thinking

There might be diverse or different talents in teams, but this does not negate the synergistic approach to solving unique problems in an organisation. An individual can be a star, but it takes a team to win big leagues in business. You are talented, but remember you are not enough alone. A team brings different skill sets to the table, a great leader then brings those talents together to work seamlessly toward a particular and specific goal. 

Adaptive teams

What thwarts progress at times is the inability of a team to adapt when change comes. This means learning agility becomes a culture that encourages every team player to always learn. In learning, we reinvent, re-design, re-strategide, and re-position as a company. The nimbleness of the leader is crucial. Most organisations die because the leader is adamant about old models or ideas. Leaders and teams must gel as they learn new ways, propose new ideas, and upskill. for the design thinking model to function effectively.

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