Happiness is…a eureka moment

or "What is the real meaning of design thinking?"

I wouldn’t normally title a post so frivolously, and categorize it as broadly as personal, business and design, but this post, I think, deserves all of this attention.

Today, I had a long conversation over my favourite Skype with Ralf Beukar, who writes the blog designmanagement.de and who brings such a unique viewpoint to the table. Ralf teaches design students about business and strategy, and his academic viewpoint of Europe, is fascinating to me. Anyway, we were talking about our blogs and our work, our interest in the area where design thinking and business strategy intermingle, when at the of my explanation of my current work I found myself bursting out with the words "I’m happy, I can’t tell you just how happy I am, I never thought six months ago, when I took the risks I did, with just intuition to guide me that I would be doing what I love and be so happy."

What was interesting was that when I described the process of the last six months of exploration, that I shared in my blog postings, I realized that it mapped on to the basic principles of design thinking. We had an interesting moment when we realised that design thinking doesn’t have to be just applied to business strategy, it could be applied to one’s personal life, goals and strategy as well. Just as there can be a Brand called You, there can be a business strategy and road map for that brand. Let me explain (thanks Ralf for the push), at business school we were taught how to create strategies to achieve set objectives using tactics that supported the brand story. The emphasis in business thinking has always been on metrics and the omnipotent Bottom Line, that meant that as professionals, we cared more for set deadlines, road maps with action items and critical paths. That approach worked wonders for a multi city new product rollout for Hewlett Packard, that needed this level of planning to coordinate speakers from 3 continents, 80 tons of equipment and 10 days to cover 5 cities, ideally under budget.

But when the project or goal is innovation, you cannot possibly predict, control and manage events to that degree, because you don’t know, when you set out, what it is you are coming up with that is new, so how on earth can you plan for it? That, is why business needs an injection of design thinking, or right brain, intuitive, empathic, sensory thinking. If you follow the evolution of my blog over the past six months, you’ll note that I started off by resigning, then I had an idea about the areas that I could practice in, chose the interface between business and design and set out to find kairos. Mapping it onto the product design process, you know what you want your product to do, then you work out a prototype, test it, tweak it, build it again, rinse, repeat and STOP! That’s it! That works! Eureka.

Well, Ralf, I just had a eureka moment. Thank you.

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