Compassionate Comprehension Leads to Success

How “design thinking” not only makes you a better person, but enriches your business

A popular way of tackling tough challenges in today’s marketing world is through “design thinking.” Emily Stevens, Managing Editor at CareerFoundry, defines it particularly effectively: “Design Thinking is both an ideology and a process, concerned with solving complex problems in a highly user-centric way.” The key here is “user-centric.” Translation: human.

The first two steps of this process focus most heavily on this factor. The first, is to empathize. That’s simple enough—it means to put ourselves in others’ shoes. Note that this is not sympathy; there is a key difference. Sympathy involves feeling regret for another individual’s circumstances; empathy involves not only these sentiments but partaking in their experience as well. It’s the difference between saying you are sorry that someone has the flu—when you have never had it— and saying you are sorry while knowing firsthand what it feels like.

The second step is to define the problem. Also simple in an objective sense, but the key here is to look at this from the following point of view: not what we as business-minded folks stand to gain, but what the customer stands to gain. It means starting with a blank slate and first considering the customer, rather than our own business profits.

Not only do these two steps make us more humane business people (let’s be honest, we need this right now), but it also sets us up for success. Call it good karma. Immediately, it shifts us into our customers’ mindsets. It allows us to begin our search for a solution through their eyes. You will immediately have a better understanding of the value they seek—which will allow you to better establish your differentiator.

That way, by the time you get to the last three steps—ideate, prototype, and test—well, you’ll have already walked a mile in your customers’ shoes.

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