Speaking a Common Language


Design thinking

Have you ever wondered why good ideas don’t extend past the walls of your personal work area, failing to make an impact?  Take it one step further to brilliant ideas that only support those that work within a small silo.  I have always worked with really smart people.  They also have ideas trapped inside them because past experience is filled with a multitude of failed attempts.  The operative word in our blog is “Culture”, and if we are going to approach questions like this and get creative about the solutions, we will need to be speaking a common language.

What if we spoke a powerful language, one that galvanized TEAMS together to support brilliant ideas that were acted upon?

Many choices are available on the market, but when it comes to very complex problems and creative solutions, Design Thinking ranks highly.  It is a 5-step process (Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test) that takes a unique approach to team interaction, and provides us with a method for documenting our future good work.

1.  Thinking

The first thing to understand is that “Thinking” is at the core of “Design Thinking”.  There is no shortcut to deep thinking.  We are surrounded by instantaneous gratification; on-demand phone, texting, movies, music and knowledge that bias us toward immediate satisfaction.  It is time to control that knee-jerk tendency or at least start to practice some restraint.

2.  User Needs and Aspirations Focus

It takes restraint to listen.  This has nothing to do with self-focus or putting yourself into immediate problem solving mode.  Take enough time to understand the user problems.  Solving an ill interpreted problem amounts to wasted effort.

3.  Coaxing Creativity

If the team is inexperienced, take along a facilitator that coaxes a team of co-creators forward.  A good facilitator is one that enjoys the success of others, just adding enough technique to get past the sticking points.  If the team is experienced, pick a member to start training in the role of facilitator.

4.  Converge and Diverge

Converge team meetings occur at each of the five steps.  Diverge from the meeting with a plan where everyone has an assignment.  Team effort after all is the participation of all.  If you are not putting in your dues, you are not supporting the end game.

5.  Team Collaboration

Based on collaboration of a team without hierarchy, where parts of ideas are often mashed together to get a better final product. This is a practiced method where the more you practice…you got it…the better you get at it.  You can’t mash together a team, no matter what level of education, experience, or diversity, and expect an instantaneous and homogeneous bond.

Converging at a meeting goes far beyond the typical agenda. It is a mindset!

The players enter the meetings with a consistent frame of mind.  Put your personal feelings in check and aspire to be a contributor, nurturing and building upon the group ideas.  Follow where the experience is taking the team rather than forcing it.  I have been designing systems and solutions for years, most times as an individual, and as I have become one of the more or most experienced people in the room, it is very difficult to restrain myself from jumping to solutions from the past.

“You don’t speak much? I never found out anything by listening to myself.”

Jesse Stone


  1.  Jesse Stone Quote – Harmon, Robert (Director) (October 25, 2015). Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise (Motion picture). Hallmark.

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