Leadership Corner: Introduction to Design Thinking

Greetings from the Leadership Development Committee! For those of you who are not familiar with the Committee’s work, we seek to develop leaders for the Association, our organizations, and our community. We hold workshops on leadership throughout the year. We also encourage each other through sharing articles, podcasts, blogs, and books on leadership. One book that I really like was introduced to me by our friends at Rogue Water at one of their Catalyst events. Designing Your Work Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans introduces design thinking to live, learn, and succeed in our work lives. The concept is thinking like a designer. What exactly does that mean?

Design thinking includes:

  • Be curious. When you’re sincerely interested in people and things, people are happy to engage with you.
  • Try stuff. This is a bias to action. When you live in this mind-set there is always something to do. Didn’t work out? You will learn things and be better able to plan your next move.
  • Reframe problems. The problem(s) you confront are rarely ever well-defined or even the right problem. Once you get good at reframing, you’ll never get stuck again!
  • Know it’s a process. Sometimes you’ll generate lots of ideas, looking at all kinds of possibilities. There are times you will need to focus on the best of those ideas. By following a process you’ll make real progress.
  • Ask for help. Get out in the world and talk to lots of different people who are doing interesting things that you are curious about. You’re not alone and improving your work life is a collaborative process.
  • Tell your story. When you adopt a storytelling mindset, you look for new ways to engage the world. The world will start talking back to you with their stories. Get good at telling your story and see what you’ll learn.

Another wonderful thing about this design process is it doesn’t require you to know what you want to be when you grow up. You just need to know what interests you, what excites you. Pursue them at your workplace by volunteering for an assignment that moves you in the right direction. Cultivate good working relationships with staff in other parts of your organization. And remember that opportunities aren’t only at work. Look for outlets that take you in the direction you want to go and possibilities for your creative energy. Some great examples include professional associations like the PNCWA, Community Groups, etc. By using a designer’s approach to your work life, you’ll build a future that’s truly meaningful for you.

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