Monday, December 30, 2019

Design for Problem-Solving

Leveraging digital mindset such as design thinking is about embedding art into science to explore the “art of the possible.” and solve problems creatively.

Either for individuals, organizations, or society as a whole, the problem-solving capability is crucial for surviving and thriving. Design thinking is a type of problem-solving mindset. What is significant about the rise in Design Thinking is that it provides a counterpoint to the analytical, to help solve problems creatively.

Problem-solving has a very wide scope and takes an interdisciplinary approach which involves multifaceted disciplines such as psychology, engineering, art, principles, condition, social norms and group behavior. The main emphasis is in doing "better pre-work" - defining the situation and the "success criteria," taking a logical scenario and enabling a consideration of the range of options - rather than the traditional "jump to solution" problem-solving methodology.

Define the right problems: We live in a hyperconnected and interdependent world with blurred boundaries and extended dimensions. Framing the right problem more often needs to step back, or get out of the box, take multidisciplinary lenses, in order to look at the problem from a different angle, understand what is exactly wrong - the exact description of the problem, and diagnose the root cause of the problem.

Truly understanding a problem is one of the most critical steps in solving it. Any problem is the right problem if there is an attempt to find a solution for addressing the correct need, as well as how to identify the need at the right level. Design thinking is not a process, but a collection of methodologies to visualize and frame the right problems, keep asking “Why is that a problem” at each successive stage. Design Thinking as a philosophy helps to diagnose the underlying issues as one of understanding the application of creativity rather than identification of a situation that demands a specific solution.

Brainstorm potential solutions: Design Thinking is very reliable at producing valid solutions. Having brainstorm enables creative problem-solving by spending as much effort on problem identification as they will do in solution discovery. Let participants experience the comprehensive business problems and opportunities associated with creating ideas and come up with potential solutions.

The facet metaphor has a potentially illusory advantage of brainstorming potential "grade" or "range" solutions by reinforcing coherence. The powerful digital technologies including social platforms and learning tools provide a loose structure for employees to connect, collaborate, and generate bottom-up ideas, issues, and solutions, each with different results and budgets and risk profile.

Identify constraints: Having constraints provides guidelines for creative problem-solving by providing anchors to explore from. It’s importance of building a comprehensive problem-solving framework to integrate all important components of problem-solving management, access the maximum number of potentially good ideas for designing and developing innovative solutions. More specifically:
(1) specifying the constraints on problem-solving methodology and techniques;
(2) identifying the information needed for decisions and problem-solving; and determining how to collect relevant information.

In most cases, you don't understand your business environment because you have never looked outside the boundary of the problem. It is important to discover the containing system has social, ecological, economic and political elements and you must advance the development of all of these factors in order to solve problems creatively and holistically.

Select the best approach: The journey of problem-solving is not to pursue a perfect solution, but to explore a better way to solve the problem and make continuous improvement. With a greater understanding of the problems, the trick is to increase the influence and be part of the solutions. Never think there is a short list of solutions you can pick from. You have to ask yourself whether you are offering something in your dialogue that really helps customers see how they can differentiate themselves or their business practices.

Fair to say, customers don't want solutions that level the playing field and equalize them with their peers, they want something that elevates them. The power of design thinking can help them reach the high vision. It's also important to put together a complete solution that works in the best interest of all related constituencies in the business. The results of those alternative solutions depend on the insight that fuel them, as well as the ability of the company to select the best ones, develop them and implement them.

Make design proposal and do prototype: Design decides nothing on the basis of semantic completeness or conceptual neatness. If you cannot afford to fail, you cannot apply design techniques alone to solve the problem. Companies need to filter, prototype, and validate potential solutions. 

Rather than focus on one method, as a team with broad expertise across a range of disciplines, there are choices of design tools or appropriate methods for managing business initiatives, making design proposals and doing prototype, and customizing tools and methods for the challenge will always yield a more desirable outcome.


With an increasing pace of changes and shortened knowledge life cycle, there needs to be a mind shift in order to master problem-solving and push the business and the world forward. Leveraging digital mindset such as design thinking is about embedding art into science to explore the “art of the possible.” and solve problems creatively.


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