What happens when people start using design thinking?

Right, so I have babbled, preached, and shouted about design thinking, both on my blog and in my life (where I try to plug it everywhere because I literally love it). I mentioned why I think design thinking is different, untrivial, and interesting. In multiple talks of mine I showed examples of real-life design thinking developed products or campaigns that worked (possible, albeit from already successful companies). We know it’s awesome, we know it works for solving problems, but…

But I don’t think I ever explained what I see happening when people get to know this methodology. Let me rectify this right here, right now. Let me tell you what happens when people start using design thinking. This is what I hear from people I worked with, this is what they report back to me after design thinking works for them. Real talk, real comments, right below!

1) They start to question the world to understand it.
This happens every time, be it a 4-hour workshop or design sprint week. When I meet the participants, they’re ok-ish, but blaze about the whole thing, about their work (sometimes even their lives). Then they discuss empathy, try to approach each other with newfound concepts, and see the change. Next comes the acceptance of any missteps, and the curiosity of what can happen, what they can create. Then come questions – going against the grain, trying to approach the situation from any „crazy perspectives” (e.g. how would that work if you had horns? how could you achieve this if you had three legs?). It’s when the lightbulb moment happens, it’s when they say, „I’ve never thought I could think that!” Then we analyze the past to see how they arrived at the new level, and the energy of seeing the world through design thinking mindsets empowers them to keep it up. Apply it in other aspects of their life. And even if they won’t remember it every single second, they still leave more open-minded!


2) They start to understand creativity and recognize it in themselves.
Creativity is still considered the domain of arts, music, literature… With the popularity of creative problem-solving techniques, however, this approach has been changing. Yes, 80% of the participants deem themselves uncreative, just because they can’t draw or write poems. So we work heavily to fight this inner critic and a century-long false notion, to make sure everyone knows creativity is in all of us. They learn that it can – or even must – be trained. Moving from the first problematic idea generation session, where it’s hard to produce concepts due to the creativity being suppressed for most of their life, they try to jump the hurdles via different exercises. It’s sometimes painful, but necessary. When their creativity gradually rises, and they start to understand that it’s not only „the craziest idea ever and nothing else” but just getting out of their thinking standards – freedom ensues!


3) They get comfortable with failure, seeking out what they can learn from it.
Fortunately, now the world changes its approach to teach kids the importance of failure, but it’s still not wildly natural. By iterations, analyzing failure, and learning from how downfalls helped others – there is a gradual increase of faith in „it’s ok to fail” mindset. Note that I will say my participants don’t leave the workshops with a full „I’ll go and shout about my failures from now on” mentality, but they do consider failures (and successes) as valid information sources. There is a developed understanding that things need to not work to develop solutions for them.


4) They consciously learn from people different than themselves.
We have been working in a multinational environment for what feels like forever. But most of us were thrown into such multinational situations because of economic choices, not because we all wanted to explore our differences. Therefore, there was no explanation of how to work together and why we should be welcoming to different ways we work. If you were clever, you could figure out some cultural differences and maybe tweak your email to be more appealing or ask certain questions to elicit honest answers. Design thinking makes it a point that a team is cross-cultural because we are al different and we can help each other to break from our culture, which keeps us chained to ideas we follow unconsciously. Looking at things through different histories, approaches, access to natural resources – that makes my participants well more aware of the world, how other people think, and how to understand them. And that makes us better as well.


5) They change the world.
Yes, with design thinking comes courage, experimentation, persistence, ideas, chances, and hope. And so much more! Opening yourself at all of the above pushes you forward to try and make the world a better place. Whether it’s an app to manage the water supply in an apartment building, or redesigning a children’s floor at the hospital – all those help someone. They all make the world a better place for someone. And every step counts!



Sow what does it mean to you? Well, it depends on how you want to lead your life, how you want to approach your work, and how you want to be remembered. OK, that’s a bit dramatic – but it does depend on if you want to be conscious of who you are, how you are, and what you can achieve.

I encourage you to look into design thinking if it’s still new to you, explore the idea of growth/doing/acting mindset, train your creative thinking via lateral thinking riddles, and watch some inspirational talks.

And then…

I dare you to question what the world tells you.
I dare you to ask „why” every time someone tells you something’s impossible.
I dare you to find answers to open-ended problems.
I dare you to go and understand why in Derry/Londonderry it’s important to organize events on both sides of the River Foyle.
I dare you to watch „Derry Girls” on Netflix to understand why in Derry/Londonderry it’s important to organize events on both sides of the River Foyle.
I dare you to tell your kids that no, this picture may not be their best and it’s ok, but yes, people can have purple hair.
I dare you to travel the world not only for sights but to find our differences and understand each other.
I dare you to be kind, curious, empathetic, and think about others every single day.
I dare you to move.

Last, but not least, I dare you AND encourage you to contact me with your observation, good or bad. Flood me with messages, and let’s discuss, let’s learn from each other, let’s share our success stories and our fuck ups!