Of recent months I have had a number of people in their early career reach out to me and ask the question ‘How do I get a job in design thinking?’ Whilst I understood what they were asking, it is still slightly an odd question considering ‘design thinking’ is an approach not a job.
‘Thinking like a designer’ and explicit design processes otherwise known as 'design thinking' are being used in various arenas seeking innovation and is certainly not exclusive to those who were trained as a design practitioner. But how does one break into this rewarding area of work that these processes can bring? I sat down to consider my answer further.
Reflect and share Social media gives you amazing opportunities to reflect, write and share. Perhaps it will be only you that reads it to start with; however sitting down to reflect on a recent experience, event or challenge you faced is full of learning. Who knows, others might just read your thoughts too.
Look within You don’t have to land that ‘innovation expert’ job to use design thinking and create innovation. In fact, the most innovative people I’ve met typically have roles that would conjure images you would least likely link to ‘innovation’. Look around you and create change from within your organisation. Be the person that people come to for problem solving, drive new thinking in your organisation, or introduce new methods in team meetings. Be bold and ask the tough questions ‘why’ and ‘what if?’
Participate There are so many great events, forums, online communities and even competitions out there that you can participate in. Those who are under thirty have so many grants and scholarships at your feet, you just need to look. Get amongst it; network, share and meet new people.
Listen and learn Find those inspiring people that you can listen and learn from, be it in print, online or in person. There are many wonderful people out there willing to give you their time if you ask (indeed I'm grateful for all those who have helped and continue to help me learn) sit back and listen to their experiences. Learning is a lifelong journey, keep seeking knowledge and you will be rewarded.
Do Slightly different to participate, this one is really about getting your hands dirty. Don’t wait for that perfect job to appear – find a passion project, get out and do it. So much can be learnt from putting yourself out there, trialling those methods you’ve learnt and dealing with all the complexities these projects bring. Start something today and just do.
So lastly and most emphatically I say LOVE IT AND LIVE IT.
Design thinking for me is about creating positive change. So live your passion with every fibre of your being – not just in the hours of 9-5 in ways dictated to you. It's not a job, it's a life long way of seeking new knowledge, new approaches to problems and greater understanding. Be honest, be generous and find ways to embody your passion, so that you and everyone around you is inspired.