By: Lara Yeku

The global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses has put a lot of pressure on HR professionals and we are expected to recommend the best solutions for our people management, as the business strives to stay alive.

Hence, this calls for an urgent need for new HR skills and competencies so as to gain the confidence of the business. One great skill to help HR navigate quickly is Design Thinking Skills.

What is design thinking? It is simply a way of working that helps us to work collaboratively and creatively to bring innovation and value to our organization/clients. It is how to use a human-centered approach to solve problems, frame opportunities, and achieve innovation through collaboration and co-creation.

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Design Thinking starts with mindset and behavior that will enable us to solve problems creatively. It is identifying those habits/behavior that will drive us to solve problems by instilling certain habits for daily practices. It is a new way of thinking and learning, driven by the needs, desires, and context of the people for whom we are designing for.

Dr. Prabhjoy Singh states in his quote: “We spend a lot of time designing the bridge but not enough time thinking about the PEOPLE who are crossing it.” In this context, he is referring to PEOPLE as USERS.

 So let us start with how design thinking skills work as people become the center of our approach and guide our use of business and technology.

First, it starts with adopting a “DESIGNER's” MINDSET;

To design a solution that is fit for purpose starts with developing a new way of thinking and working. This starts with the right mindset. The mindset should focus on solutions and value by using the principles of collaboration, human-centeredness, playful and iterative approach to problem seeking and problem-solving.

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It is a mind that is open to learning and sees challenges as opportunities. We need to urgently move from a traditional approach of working to a design thinking approach. This requires a shift in how we think and work.

There are some behaviours that are required once you have adopted this design thinking mindset;

  • Framing questions  
  • Showing Empathy   
  • Designing for Experience    
  • Value focused 
  • Create Unique Insights
  • Collectively Create / Co-create    
  • Iterate Often   
  • Connect to Collective Purpose    
  • Adaptability    
  • Non-judgemental    
  • User-centered / Human-centered 

Design Thinking helps us to be more creative and innovative – especially when we solution “with” our people instead “for” our people. The outcome is better solutions and more positive business results.”

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Next is the Design Thinking approach. Some of the approaches are;

(1) Empathize: by learning about the audience. This will help you design problem statements: WHO does the problem affect? Specific groups, organizations, customers, etc What is their persona? How can an empathy map help me understand how they feel, what they are saying, what do they see and think? Organizations that are very adaptive have used this approach to respond to the current customer needs – e.g Sterling Bank

(2) Define: by constructing the point of view from the response from the users' needs – you can have multiple users – businesses, people, customers and design the problem statement WHAT: What is the impact of the issue? What problems are caused? What is most important? What gives the most value?

(3) Ideate: by co-creating with the users’ on most cost-benefit outcomes to design the problem statement HOW: How can we solve this problem? How might we proffer the best possible solution to this? How best do we solve this problem? How do we get the best return on investment? How do we diversify? How do we generate other options?

The above explains the introductory way to build design thinking competencies as we continue to work with our organizations to sustain their business during this trying period.

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About the Author 

Lara is a seasoned Human Resources senior executive with local and global best practices spanning across various industries. She is a certified coach with expertise cutting across HR Transformation, Talent & Career Management, HR Strategy, HR Metrics & Data Analytics, Organizational Development, Training, Performance Management, Talent Acquisition & Retention, Workforce planning, HR Coaching, Succession Planning, etc. 

You can reach her on LinkedIn here.

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