Getting Unstuck

Design thinking is not just for ‘creatives.’  Design thinking is a useful methodology, and a set of tools, for anyone, especially those working in the nonprofit sector.

If you are running a nonprofit, working in government or a foundation, or involved in a public/private initiative, you are probably struggling to figure out how to do what you can with the resources you have, or how to get more resources so you can do more.  Somehow you are always trying to  stretch what you have – money, resources, space.  You want to serve more, reach more, advocate for more – but with limited resources.

From applying design thinking to my own nonprofit and philanthropic work, here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. we are often solving for the wrong problem;
  2. we need to get out of our heads and go out and talk to people;
  3. don’t assume – ask;
  4. don’t be generous with time – find the stopwatch;
  5. find an interdisciplinary team of thinkers and doers to brainstorm and build with, not just talk to;
  6. institute ‘yes, and’ rather than ‘BUT’ for almost everything;
  7. recognize that the process is iterative;
  8. don’t try to solve for everyone but focus on extreme users;
  9. don’t try to answer the entire problem – find a solution that works and then work upwards from there;
  10. Tell a story