A Fitness Metaphor for Design Thinking

We’ve all been there. We head to the gym with the very best intentions, fill out the registration form and leave with a membership card. Sadly, just having a membership card doesn’t make you fit. And any personal trainer will tell you that hitting the gym once a week won’t make you fit either.

The same is true of Design Thinking. Taking an online or in person training won’t make you a design thinker. It more or less gives you the metaphorical membership card. What’s needed is a daily commitment to changing one’s behaviour to be more human centred. This means shifting one experience, one interaction, one conversation, or one behaviour every day to adopt a design thinking mindset.

When we’re pursuing personal fitness goals, it’s not the first few reps that cause the muscles to burn and eventually show micro-tears. This happens at rep 14,15,16, when we’re getting stronger. And the same is true for Design Thinking. The first few behaviour changes are easy, yet the ones that really challenge our patterns and organisational norms are the ones that matter most. These behaviour changes make us stronger as individuals and as organisational leaders… and they’re the ones that are more difficult to sustain.

Over time, being more human centered in all we do becomes the norm and our teams and organisations begin to take notice. This is how change happens…one conversation, one interaction, one experience at a time. Role modelling the behaviours we want to see is one of the most powerful signals we can send to those around us. It doesn’t matter if we have power of position or power of influence, a personal commitment to change is what we make it, just like a fitness routine. What’s one behavioural change you’ll make today to adopt a Design Thinking mindset? Like any other commitment to change, getting started is the first step. Go ahead, you can do it.

Holly O’Driscoll, Former Global Design Thinking Leader at Procter & Gamble, Founder & CEO at Ampersand Innovation, LLC

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