With unprecedented advances in technology and an increasingly connected global community, the modern world for which we are preparing our children is a different place than it was just ten, twenty or fifty years ago. As a result, today’s universities and workforce are looking for a different type of candidate, one who is able to collaborate across disciplines and bring the right balance of creative problem-solving skills to spark change, growth and innovation for the organization.
One educational concept gaining ground today from the elementary to collegiate level is designed to provide opportunities that build leaders and individuals with valuable problem solving and non-cognitive skills such as creativity, collaboration, ethics, empathy and teamwork.
Design Thinking is a process focused on fostering innovation, original thought and creativity. By taking a multifaceted and interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, it seeks to improve processes on a broader scale in nearly any industry.
Today’s universities and hiring directors are seeking well-rounded individuals who are more than the sum of their experiences on paper. They are looking for candidates with the intangible qualities that make them key players on the team. In many ways, this new frontier of critical thinking breaks down traditional silos and aims to connect the minds of engineers with artists, and visionaries with pragmatists to generate imaginative and concrete results.
Created by business leaders and further established by Stanford University professors and students, the Design Thinking process is applicable to any number of organizations and situations, from the classroom to the boardroom. While the origins of Design Thinking can be traced back years and even decades, it is now gaining significant traction as a practical and valuable vehicle to promote creative, collaborative problem solving. In fact, a recent issue of Harvard Business Review hailed the Design Thinking process as a leading approach for executives to devise strategy and manage change.
As the millennial generation emerges as the largest working generation – and brings about swift and widespread social and cultural change – skills built through Design Thinking are becoming more and more prized. As 21st century hiring directors begin to take soft skills into account when reviewing candidates, skills involving creativity and collaboration are increasingly desirable. Today’s university admission teams and corporate hiring directors are looking to create teams that bring together a wide range of skill sets, perspectives and experience from across the board, including engineering, science, design arts, social sciences and the business world.
An individual armed with collaborative and innovative problem-solving skills will be well-prepared to contribute and succeed in the modern workplace. With Design Thinking, diversity of thought and talent is an asset, and oftentimes the best solutions come from teams composed of individuals from various industries, different perspectives and unique strengths.
At Detroit Country Day School, we have incorporated various aspects of the Design Thinking process to virtually all teams across the institution – from our pre-kindergarteners to executive-level decision makers.
We believe in weighing and evaluating progressive educational trends before implementing into our curriculum. Design Thinking fits into our programs and philosophy that education is about helping students become well-rounded lifelong learners with the essential non-cognitive, interpersonal skills that will make them effective leaders and citizens, now and throughout their lives. We implemented the process by hosting workshops and getting students engaged in day-long brainstorming, design and activity sessions, encouraging them to work together to find creative solutions.
Our students have come to understand that true innovation is defined by creating solutions designed to make improvements for someone other than themselves. This level of empathy is more and more vital in raising productive, compassionate members of our ever-shrinking local and global societies.
The challenges facing today’s corporations and organizations are growing more complex, dimensional and worldwide, which makes it critical to have the people in place who can think and act through observation, brainstorming, synthesizing, creating prototypes and tests, and implementing solutions.
In many ways, the Design Thinking process – finding human-centered solutions to real-world challenges – is as applicable at the elementary level as it is at the executive level. Every organization can benefit from making thoughtful, strategic and high-impact decisions.