How design thinking can help us build habits, achieve goals, and solve problems.

Just a few weeks ago I was chatting with my Dad about some of my side projects and future dreams, many of which have no obvious correlation to my current job at a creative agency. He's good at being supportive and letting me dream big while still bringing a level of reason to the conversation to make sure my head isn't stuck too far in the clouds.

When he asked, "Jacob, if these are your dreams, how do you think what you're doing now is of any benefit?" my response was immediate. "What I'm learning now — design thinking — shapes how I think about everything! It isn't just limited to color or typography. It's asking the right questions, crafting a delightful experience and creating something not only utilitarian but beautiful."

Any time I design another website or another email, I'm challenged to take something people already know and create something that's unique. Familiar with a twist. This is what's known as Vuja de (the opposite of Deja vou where you feel like you've already experienced a situation). It's experiencing something you've already experienced a thousand times but feeling like it's the first. It's looking at something you know with a fresh perspective.

Design thinking allows us increase the frequency of vuja de moments by opening our eyes to new ideas about something we would consider to be mundane. This is what we, as creative people, are tasked with! If you're looking for some more resources on design thinking, IDEO has some fantastic resources that you should look into.

Stanford professor of design, Bernard Roth (who's book — Achievement Habit — I coincidentally just finished), has been teaching a course entitled "The Designer in Society" for years and he outlines design thinking as follows:

1. Empathize: Learn what the issues are.

2. Define the problem: Which question are you going to answer?

3. Ideate: Generate possible solutions.

4. Prototype: Abandon perfection and either build your project or develop a plan.

5. Test and get feedback from others.

He clarifies that it's less about the steps and more about the action that the steps are meant to incite. But if action is a natural part of your process, you're likely on to some of these ideas already. Take an issue that you're dealing with and begin by breaking it down and figuring out what the real issue at hand is. From there, you can make steps toward designing a solution that fits the need rather than treats the symptoms. That's design thinking.