Simply put, design thinking is a means of generating innovative solutions to problems. It forces a client-focused approach that results in both more ideas and greater potential for client satisfaction. David Kelley, Dennis Boyle and the d.school at Stanford are good places to start if you're interested to learn more about this 5-step process. In this article I briefly touch on each as it applies to stakeholder engagement.
Design thinking is a complex strategy that can also be quite fun! There are tons of worksheets and materials available for conducting a design thinking workshop for different audiences to solve various problems. If you're interested in hosting a workshop for your municipality or client send me a message and I'll point you in the right direction!
Do you use design thinking for community development? If so, how?
1. Organizations can no longer afford to be autonomous.
They literally cannot afford it.
It has often been said that in order to be truly free you need to have that "f-you money," you know - the kind of money that ensures you don't have to ask anybody for anything, not their blessing, not their help, and certainly not their opinion. While that might still be the goal for many, most of us, including local government, are not there yet. With that said, local governments often need all the partners and financial leverage they can muster and that means reaching out to stakeholders across industries.
2. Context is the knowledge of the future.
Oh, you've got data? You know what the housing cost burden is for families at 80% Area Median Income? Ok great. Now tell me why................................. (i'll wait).......
Exactly. Now, for many of us who work in the community development space amid federal regulations writing grants and the like, we know that local knowledge is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle. In order to understand the cause of what's producing the data we see, we need to know what is happening in people's everyday lives. What is wrong with the transitional housing system if someone can't get a bed because they are pregnant? What can we do to ensure homeless veterans have access to quality healthcare?
Many policy changes are enacted because of the stories we hear. We need those stories. Not only do they give meaning to numbers but they help uncover broken or non-existent links in the systems we develop. Local context is the glue which makes programs work effectively and seamlessly.
3. Diversity is on-trend.
If your organization doesn't value diversity or recognize that "diversity of thought" is not enough, you are behind the eight-ball my friend. Your approach is "played out," and I bet your programs are too.
For marginalized groups diversity has been a catch phrase, a forced invitation to the main stage, and for too long it's been lip-service. While we can't make up lost time, we can use innovative practices and technologies to leapfrog toward a more socially inclusive and just world. Committing to actively and purposefully engage all sectors of the population is an undeniable part of that.
If you're serious about solving complex problems - engage stakeholders.
Not sure where to start? Connect with me and ask your questions. I'll help you. No strings attached.
(This article was originally published on www.localparticipation.com which has been rolled over to this site).