Shaping the possible
If research is the discipline of understanding the world, design is the discipline of shaping it. While research asks “what is?” design asks “what should be?” Design problems are problems with no predetermined solution. They are questions with no right answer. They require us to make decisions about an uncertain future.
Some of us thrive in uncertainty. Some of us went to school for it. But for others of us, the fear of making the wrong move can paralyze us, trapping us in a cycle of doubt and inaction. After all, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?
In the midst of this uncertainty, design thinking provides us a model for action. We call this model The Loop: a continuous cycle of observing, reflecting, and making. It drives us to understand the present and envision the future. It enables us to build on our successes and learn from our failures along the way. When taken to heart, the Loop keeps us moving forward despite the uncertainty the future may hold.
Finding your momentum
To get started, bring your team together to reflect. What are your capabilities as a team? What problem are you solving together? What do you know, and what don’t you know?
As you work to answer these questions, come up with a plan. You can learn more about your users’ world by observing, or you can get your hands dirty and make your ideas real. Go in any order you like, but make sure to do all three. Observing and reflecting without making is analysis paralysis; making and reflecting without observing is blind faith.
Take as many loops around the problem in the time you have, but be ready to commit to the decision you believe is best. Even after you commit, you’ll discover new problems to solve and new ideas to explore. What’s important is that you find your team’s momentum and keep moving.