Parallel between design thinking and personal improvement

AI-generated image for "Design thinking" from Text to Image on

Recently I had the insight that the process of talking to customers to design an analytic solution has much in common with the process for deliberate improvement that I learned from Dennis Hooper.

Design Process Personal Development
What do you do for your company? What are you trying to accomplish? What do you want to improve? Strategic result
How do you measure that or tell if you succeeded? For somebody who is already skilled at that, what behaviors do you envision that they consistently display?
What are things that you believe influence those measures? Business activities, other metrics, explanatory variables, etc. What initiatives can we undertake that will increase the likelihood of you doing more of those behaviors? Tactical initiative

These mirror the process for improving just about anything, so perhaps it is unsurprising that they are similar. Yet people have a natural tendency to approach these very differently, in my experience.
For designing analytic solutions, my experience is that customers start in the tactical weeds, asking for raw materials -- data -- to address or automate a few pain points. They're looking for the metaphorical "faster horse" and may not see anything beyond that as relevant to your discussion. Where you can the most add value is asking open-ended, curious questions to extract what they plan to do with those raw materials, inching them toward the strategic. (It also is more likely to lead to solutions that don't require a kitchen sink of data.)
Conversely, for personal improvement, people tend to start at the opposite end of the spectrum: the result. "I want to be better at x." They think of the outcome first and must spend time figuring out how to get there. This is where I think managers and coaches can add the most value, because working backwards to the tactical and actionable is something most have not learned how to do.

Despite the different ways people approach these tasks, another commonality I have now introduced is that people can benefit from a facilitator, which could be you.

Contact Form


Email *

Message *