“And now, ladies and gentlemen, before I tell you more, I’m going to show you the greatest thing your eyes have ever beheld.” -King Kong
As leaders, sometimes we feel like we’ve hit pay dirt, that we’ve stumbled upon the very nirvana, the idea to top all other ideas. You are almost beside yourself, giddy with excitement of what possibilities that it holds for the organization. And like opening night, you can’t wait to unveil, to pull back the curtains on what you’ve been holding, what you have to offer.
“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” -Brian Reed
Yet, you hold back, you know that you can’t bring it forth until it is right, until it is ready. You drop seeds hinting to the idea, looking for feedback, looking for ways to improve and grow it. You know that no idea is born ready, that it has to be molded and readied, to percolate and simmer. As a leader, you understand that a great idea usually does not stand alone, it requires preparation, it requires design in thinking.
“Design is the application of intent – the opposite of happenstance, and an antidote to accident.” -Robert L. Peters
According to Wikipedia, words like empathy, creativity and rationality are combined into design thinking. Concepts we consider deeply when we are truly excited about an idea and its implications for improving and bettering our organization. How will this affect our people, our organization? How will it be accepted? We take the time to incorporate beauty into the process, into the presentation, into the design of that idea, for we understand the importance of it for our people and the organization we lead.
“The only important thing about design is how it relates to people.” -Victor Papanek
Unfortunately, as leaders we don’t always have this level of dedicated inspiration towards everything we implement within our organization. And for that reason, we often leave out that design perspective in the process, we fail to bring forth the beauty of that which lies within many of our ideas and initiatives. Which is often why many of our initiatives and ideas fall flat, they lack inspiration, vitality, a sense of relationship and connection. Not only for those we lead, but ourselves as well.
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.” -Robert L. Peters
When people, relationships, and that connection aren’t taken into account, our ideas and initiatives will struggle. They will lack the beauty that engages and pulls people in…
Often leaving people feeling frustrated and disconnected, finding little reason get behind the idea or the initiative. When it lacks the beauty in the design, it can often bring out the beast in each of us.
“Twas beauty that killed the beast.” -King Kong
In the end, the work of leadership is not founded in implementing, it is in designing work that engages, in designing work that matters, in designing work that moves the spirit. In bringing out the beauty of what we do. Design thinking allows us to truly evaluate and consider what it is we not only plan on doing but, why are we doing it?
And does that work further our vision? Is it worthwhile work? Is it truly the work we should be doing?
“People ignore design that ignores people.” -Frank Chimero
Thank you for this enlightening perspective. There’s a lot of buzz these days around design thinking, particularly in education and besides trying to understand exactly what that may mean for teachers and students, schools and school systems, it becomes a challenge to bother to examine the package of ideas it represents at all. Your post brings the essence of this dilemma to light. What happens when we keep people – their needs, their fears, their hopes – in mind as we seek improvement? What becomes possible when we invite those very people whose work and lives we plan to make better to participate in the creative and practical process? What beauty could we create? What kinds of beasts could we tame? If these are among the possibilities that design thinking offers, sign me up.