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How Design Thinking helps leaders innovate

Updated: Apr 29, 2021


Not every leader was born knowing how to innovate. Innovation doesn't come easy to every team leader. Not all teams embrace innovation. Motivating a team to routinely and regularly come up with new and innovative ideas can be tough and challenging for many leaders. We are told to be innovative because innovation is important for the advancement of business. Yet we are not told how to innovate. Being innovative doesn't come with a set of instructions. If innovation doesn't come easily then design thinking might be the key to improving your innovation skillset.


Why innovate? Well, it is through innovation we see improvements in:

· efficiencies in processes, and systems

· effectiveness of interactions with team members within systems

· teams working together collaboratively

· team member wellbeing

· financing of ideas to market

· bringing new offerings to market

· new ways of paying for offerings

· profit margins

· finding new markets

· productivity

· developing a culture of creativity and innovativeness

· challenging the status quo


Design thinking can assist leaders upskill their own creativeness and innovativeness and teach leaders how to empower their team members to do the same. Design thinking is a team sport. The tools and templates within design thinking are designed to be used by leaders with their teams. Using the tools, templates and maps over time and with consistency helps to improve creativeness, new ways of thinking and helps empower members to be more innovative.


For most leaders, being innovative requires purposeful effort and energy. Innovation doesn't come easy to everyone. Innovation requires a culture that embraces change. Here at Leadingrowth we call leaders who embrace change, and lead leaders (team members who lead themselves) through change, "Growth Champions". At Leadingrowth we assist Growth Champions empower leaders to be creative, to think differently, to consider different contexts and peoples, to innovate and to move through change using design thinking. We see Growth Champions empowering leaders to grow and encouraging leaders to think outside the square. We assist Growth Champions through design thinking empower leaders to innovate, rather than accepting the status quo. We see them ask of their leaders to look for ways to improve systems and processes and ways of doing in the workplace.


Areas where design thinking works best for Growth Champions and leaders seem to be those industries that have higher-degrees of uncertainty and risk, where innovation and creativeness is expected to occur with regularity. There is an expectation that Growth Champions grow business despite the challenges and obstacles. We find design thinking comes in handy for those leaders who are looking to routinely innovate and be creative in the way they solve complex problems or overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles.


· Discovery industries like education, engineering, mining, energy, gas, and oil. Design Thinking helps Growth Champions and leaders with solving ways to look for new discoveries and solving ways to manage the implementation of innovations.


· Agribusinesses include red meats, plants, seafood, and their distribution and retail networks. Design Thinking helps these leaders look for better ways or more nutritious ways to feed the world.


· The health and wellbeing industries, which include pharmaceuticals, mental health, physical health, hospitals, hospices, gyms, psychologists, nutritionists. Design thinking helps these leaders with their human-centric approach to solving issues for people to stay healthy and well.



Growth champions focused on growth in their leaders and human betterment are typically drawn to design thinking. When used consistently and routinely each week, Growth Champions and leaders find design thinking helps to improve their growth mindsets, upskills their creativeness, improves their innovative skillsets, and empowers and uplifts their teams. There is no thinking where I begin, or what should I do first. Consistency is the key.



Through the learning and experience loops, when used routinely and with regularity, Growth Champions find the 4DLX-Grow Design Thinking Framework becomes a "go to" guide to use to overcome hurdles, to solve complex problems, to improve creativeness, to upskill "thinking outside the box" and to improve innovation throughout the enterprise. In fact, as it becomes a habit, the "easier" Growth Champions and leaders seem to find it is to move forward, embrace change, pivot, solve problems and overcome hurdles. The 4DLX-Grow Design Thinking Framework is a simplistic way to navigate complexity. The four-phase framework helps leaders in growth, as it comes with a toolbox of templates, maps, and tools that growth champions can use, improve, and co-create with their teams as they innovate, change, and improve the world in which we live.

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