Why entrepreneurs need to learn design thinking

Because so many things can go wrong when running a startup, entrepreneurs need to use as many tools as possible in order to increase their chances of success. One very valuable tool , which is still very under-utilised, is design thinking.

When most people think of design, they think of art , or interior decorators , or architects. However, design thinking is much more than that. It forces you to be user-centric , and because it revolves around your customer, it helps you to think clearly about what you need to do to solve his problems.

Design thinking has now become an integral part of most MBA programs , and lots of books will teach you how to start using this method. It's something which should become an integral part of your startup's DNA, so that every time you're confronted with a problem, you use design thinking to solve it.

It is very versatile, because it allows you to use both divergent thinking , which allows you to brainstorm and come up with lots of solutions; followed by convergent thinking, so you can focus on implementing what's do-able and important , and ignore all the rest.

Design thinking follows well-defined principles . It's done in groups, which allows different stake-holders with varying perspectives providing their insights - after all, many heads are better than one. The leader of the group - the decision maker - is the person who owns the problem which needs to be solved. The mechanics are straight-forward, and allow all the participants to collaborate within a well-defined time frame. Basically, everyone draws their idea on sticky pads, which are then organized and rearrange on a wall . This encourages fluidity in thinking; and sparks off new ideas and creativity. It taps into your growth mindset , and allows you to come up with new possibilities.

A useful mnemonic to remember is, What is? What if? What wows? and What works? 

There are lots of useful resources which will teach you about Design Thinking - and many are free. You can start by checking out http://scpd.stanford.edu/design/videos/index.php

The one book which I like the best is Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days at http://www.amazon.in/Sprint-Solve-Problems-Test-Ideas/dp/150112174X

-By Dr. Aniruddha Malpani

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