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Design Thinking for Business Impact
Design Thinking for Business Impact

In a world where we are continually told to come armed with solutions, a short course being offered in the Bay of Plenty is encouraging participants to come with problems and no preconceived ideas of how to solve them.

The short course, Design Thinking for Business Impact, is being offered by the University of Waikato in conjunction with Priority One for businesses and entrepreneurs who want to get to grips with design thinking and unlock the practice that is proven to lift bottom lines by up to 200 per cent.

University of Waikato alumni, Clare Swallow, is one of four coaches delivering the three-day course, starting in May, which will take participants through a real-life project from start to finish. The project can either relate to their business or employer, or be provided by Priority One.

“The basic premise of design thinking is to bring human beings back into the centre of our problem solving,” says Clare.

“For so long we have been taught don’t come with a problem, come with a solution and now we need to break that model,” she says.

Clare says the course was developed after speaking with CEOs in the Bay of Plenty who believed a step change was needed in how businesses were addressing innovation and growth, and a desire to come at innovation from a fresh perspective.

“Organisations often create a new role because they think they need an innovation manager, or they need to create an innovation lab. Some of those things are certainly an enabler but really it is a cultural change that’s needed.”

She says design thinking takes people on a journey into the minds of their customers or employees and, depending on the challenge or opportunity, by using the process, they will discover what actions are needed.

Clare says when businesses are led by design thinking trust increases in their business. As trust increases, they find creativity increases and as creativity increases, innovation happens.

“It can sound simple but it’s about trust. The more we trust each other the more likely we are to be courageous and take a risk, and the more likely we are to be creative and therefore innovative.”

She says there is a level of vulnerability for participants involved as they put aside unconscious bias and preconceived ideas. She has even had participants in tears, including a CEO who at the end of the course was so proud of what his team had achieved.

The course intakes are limited to 12 people, with two coaches per course, and Clare says participants will be able to implement and action design thinking in their work right away.

Clare completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies at Waikato in 2014 and 2015 was named one of five Westpac Millennial Women of Influence, recognising her as one of New Zealand’s top digitally savvy women aged 25-35.