What is Design Thinking, anyway – and how does it relate to coaching?

by Rob Michelucci, ACC

Design Thinking places the consumer at the heart of your business. It uses the power of questions, active listening, discovery, and design to help customers identify and meet a challenge or need in creative ways.  Nurtured in Silicon Valley, Design Thinking is being used by innovative businesses to create products and services with, rather than just for, customers. We enjoy the fruits of Design Thinking in the Magic Bands we wear in Disney parks and in the Netflix movies we stream.

Now, Design Thinking is being embraced by people in the business of developing people.  In coaching, Design Thinking provides a practical process and useful tools to help our clients discover and design what they really want in work, in life, and in leadership roles.

According to Warren Berger, opener keynoter at this year’s Capital Coaches Conference and author of the bestseller, A More Beautiful Question, “A designer, at the most basic level, is someone who wants to solve a problem. We tend to think of designers as people who deal with aesthetics, but basically design is about coming up with a plan to do something to get a desired outcome. We’re all trying to do that.  So in a sense, we’re all designers.”

Warren believes that coaches are “perfectly positioned” to bring the combined power of Design Thinking and what he calls collaborative inquiry “to the leadership world, to business execs, and to leaders in any organization who need to be better questioners themselves.”

The Design Thinking process typically follows 5 steps (though they’re not always linear): Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. To simplify even further, Design Thinking can be thought of in terms of:

  • Discovery – learning about your client’s issues, wants, and needs
  • Ideation – helping your client make connections and take actions to design/test/explore possibilities
  • Prototyping – creating systems or structures to leverage your clients’ values and strengths, and support them in learning, growing, and achieving their goals

To learn more about Design Thinking, click here to read our full interview with Warren Berger.

To experience Design Thinking, register today ere  for the 2016 CCC.  Along with Warren’s keynote, Design Strategist Jen Fox from Capital One, and Life Coach Rob Michelucci, will co-lead a breakout session on Coaching by Design to help you put what you’ve learned to work.