Saturday, May 08, 2010

Design Thinking

Do you think of yourself as a designer? Can you think with an emphasis on design principles? Heather Fraser, the director of DesignWorks at the University of Toronto thinks we all have a bit of hidden designer within us.

Fraser posits that design thinking means applying design principles to business applications. " It's about the way designers look at opportunities and problems" says Fraser, and if you stop and think about it, she's right. She goes on to say that designers approach problems with a holistic and human dimension. Meaning that designers think of the whole problem, and the customer perspectives, when making decisions on retail operations, restaurants, and business practices.

Fraser goes on to say that we likely make design centered thinking without knowing it. The key is to let go of the focused MBA style analytics and spreadsheets, embracing this whole mind thinking to combat problems. The idea, again, is to look at the problem from a distance. Consider a college store renovation. How will the students navigate the store? How will they find the books easily and effectively? Are you a school with a strong athletics program that you want to highlight? A large committed Alumni base? A street scape location that favors tourist traffic to your store? Each of these questions (and many others), highlight the holistic design thinking process that makes your store stand out, and creates an environment that fits the customer, not you.

For college stores, it is a reminder to think creatively. Think outside of the boring textbook box, and embrace the unknown. Customer attitudes and desires come into play. The key is to develop merchandising, marketing, and store design that offers creative, and new world thinking to age old problems.

Embrace some right brain thinking, and remember the term "Design Thinking" when planning changes to your business.

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