Glimmer: The Power of Design Thinking

Can design thinking make you a happier? A recently published book by author Warren Berger says it can.

Fast Company reports that a new book by Warren Berger, Glimmer, poses that basic design strategies can be adapted to everyday issues – at global, social, business and even personal levels. The book’s title captures that moment when one arrives at a new solution to an old problem, and strives to learn how designers solve everyday problems and create alternative solutions.

In collaboration with top designers, Berger examines the ways in which they approach problems, utilize unique tools and techniques, and ultimately arrive at solutions. The ensuing insights captured are actionable and sometimes counter-intuitive design principles such as “ask stupid questions;” “make hope visible;” “work the metaphor;” “embrace constraints;” and “begin anywhere”. He elaborates how these can be implemented in business and personal life, and on how “transformation” design is being used to inject fresh creativity into companies globally (and can be used individually).

Berger offered three ways that design thinking can be applied to your life:

1. Designers are good at asking stupid questions. “Step back and reassess everything. Ask fundamental questions: Why are we living in this city? Why am I in this job? There are all sorts of assumptions in your life to reconsider.”

2. Designers put problems into visual form. “(Designer) Bruce Mau never thought he’d apply design principles to his own life, but when he was overwhelmed by travel and work he created a graphic representation of how he spent his time. Designers know that when you see everything in front of you, connections and patterns become more understandable.”

3. Designers think laterally. “They force their brains to go sideways and consider solutions that are off the path. For example, a bank can transform into boutique hotel or a community center. Most of what (Designer) Dean Kamen does is apply technology to new areas. The trick is to avoid problems in a straightforward manner so that you’re open to left-field possibilities. It’s all about getting away from heuristic bias.”

Ultimately, Berger also believes “you can design your life so that it’s ultimately stimulating”. By borrowing a page from Richard Saul Wurman – the creator of the Ted Conference – you can design some flow into your life by continually learning, but by pacing that process so that when you’re done with a particular book or project, you move on. Berger explains that we’re happiest when we’re challenged – but not over challenged.

One can argue that, in that vein, you can even use a business or social model to change your perspective and land on your big idea (i.e., happiness) – but that just might be part of the point of design thinking (and effective account planning).

Fast Company: “Can Design Thinking Solve Your Problems and Make You Happier?”

Image by by Todd Ehlers

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