Design Your Thinking by Dr. Pavan Soni

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A book which can act a catalyst for cultivating the mind-sets, toolsets and skill sets required for creative problem solving.

Let me take you through this book. 

Introduction section of the book starts with beautiful statement from Eric Schmidt which says, “I still believe that sitting down and reading a book is the best way to really learn something

Author further mentions Non-linear growth necessitates non-linear ways of thinking and this is true in our personal as well as professional spheres. In our endeavours of engineering solutions and crafting our careers, we often miss out on the important skill of “design our thinking” 

While elaborating contribution of design thinking to the discourse on creative problem solving and innovation, Dr. Soni mentions that design thinking gives prominence to the significance of empathy, experimentation and iteration. Also imperative of embracing ambiguity instead of fearing it.

The design thinking method is as usual for new product development as for everyday problems, including accounts receivables, customer service and employee engagement. It can be aptly practiced in personal lives also where a deeper understanding of other people’s motivations can greatly help improving relationships.

All design thinking process model stages: Inspire, Empathize & Define, Ideate, Prototype & Test, and Scale are discussed in depth in subsequent chapters along with loads of case studies to have ease of understanding.

In the chapter “What is Design Thinking?” the shortcomings of traditional “Stage Gate process of problem solving or new product development” is discussed. Author says there are two types of errors: type A error: failed innovation and type B error: missed innovation.

Type B error is when you missed out on a great opportunity & your competition laps it up, &, in the process, seals your fate in the market. Mantra here is “Fail faster to succeed sooner.” 

Further detailed comparison between lean thinking, critical thinking, lateral thinking & design thinking is elaborated in the book.

In Chapter “Why Design Thinking Now?” importance of adopting this methodology now is deliberated. Below are the pointers which explains why design thinking deserves to be adopted more seriously & pervasively:

● Products & services have blurred into experiences.

● Problems are becoming multifaceted.

● All companies are fast becoming B2C.

● Widespread digitization of human engagements.

● Customers are growing knowledgeable and restless.
● The tools of experimentation are becoming widespread.

● The clash of business models is here to stay.

● Markets are throwing new surprises at you.

In Chapter “Key Tenets of Design Thinking” some of the important mindset elements that need to be cultivated to design your thinking as well as to practice design thinking effectively are discussed.

The key learning from Jeff Bezos says “If you are competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

Key Tenets are:

● Bring the human to the centre of your work.

● It is not about designing as much as about thinking.

● Focus on the subject, not the object.

● Solve the problem with the customer, & not for the customer.

● Think beyond product.

● Strike balance between desirability, feasibility and viability.

● Think broad before you go narrow.

● Learn to compartmentalize your thinking.

● From symptoms to problems to the root causes.

● It is about “what less” and not “what else.”

● Sell the problem before you sell the solution.

● Thinking with your hands.

● Visualize your thinking.

● Fail often to succeed sooner.

Chapter “Design Thinking in Action” explains practical methodology adapting the design thinking in real sense.

Last Chapter “How to be a Design Thinker” provides pointers on skill sets and mind-sets that can help to become a better (design) thinker. These are:

● Live curious.

● Listen with intent.

● Observe with purpose.

● Defer your judgement.

● Hone multiple affiliation.

● Be a T-shaped person.

● Develop failure tolerance.

Three key attributes of a design thinker are summarized as: 

a clear head, a deep heart and a thick skin.

Overall a must read book for cultivating the mind-sets, toolsets and skill sets required for creative problem solving. Happy Reading !!  😊

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