Design thinking is the practice of placing the end-user, their problems, goals, and challenges at the center and designing a solution from the center outward. Over the past few years we have witnessed the idea of design thinking (DT) emerge from theory to the modern ethos of business innovation. But how can design thinking be used to improve corporate learning and leadership training and what are the benefits?
The Challenges of Corporate Learning
Most methods used for training are based on expected or desired patterns of thought and do little to address the trainee’s needs, their questions, and their unique obstacles to learning. The corporate model of training tends to utilize the “teach to the objective” approach. This reduces training to the laying out of linear chunks of information that while laced with periodic knowledge checks, depends on repetition with the “hope” that the trainee will just eventually “get it.”
Design Thinking Promotes Innovation
Is it better for your employees to know the “correct” answer or would you rather them come up with the “best” answer through ideation and brainstorming that while adherent to your corporate theme, are innovative? Whether you are developing an onboarding program or training future leaders, one of the most powerful benefits of using the design thinking processes is achieved through the empowerment of your employees to innovate. When you engage your team in design thinking, you are teaching them how to think not what to think.
Design Thinking Stages
There are five basic steps to the design thinking process. Here is how you can apply these concepts to your corporate learning program to better train your employees, improve their onboarding experience, and increase the likelihood for innovation in your workforce.
Step 1: Empathy
During the empathy stage of DT, you want to really put yourself in the shoes of the person for whom you are designing.
Steps 2 and 3: Define and Ideate
Define the most common problems that your trainees will need to solve. In this stage, you will utilize your company’s greatest resource, the human ones! Brainstorm to generate new ideas, uncover hidden problems, collaborate and innovate the solutions.
Step 4: Develop and Prototype
In this step, you take the ideas and make them tangible. Putting the ideas into action may be the most significant challenge when it comes to applying the DT process to corporate learning. This will require you to consider the best learning modes for each individual trainee in every scenario. Since ensuring access to learning content is a major challenge today, you will want to consider these issues as you develop your learning product.
Step 5: Testing and Iteration
As we mentioned previously, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when you create a human-centric design. This means that you will probably need to try several learning modes, testing them each to find the best individual solution. The central idea, however, is to shift from an instructional model to one that is more experiential in nature.
Getting Your Team Onboard Faster
One significant benefit of using a design thinking approach to corporate learning is the ability you have to inform your trainees with the essential information they need to succeed at their jobs faster. We know from research that today around 90% of new employees decide whether to stay with a company within the first six months. Corporate learning needs to be impactful and relevant from day one.
How to Build Bench Strength Using Design Thinking
The essence of DT involves empathizing, listening to people and allowing them to identify the tough problems, new opportunities to explore, and create innovative solutions. Sounds a lot like leadership training, doesn’t it? Because design thinking combines systems analysis and outcomes-oriented problem-solving, it’s relevant to the development of business leaders.
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