An Intro to Design Thinking for HR

A few weeks back, I met Stuti Dhandhania, Founder of Blue Peridot. She asked to interview me in the course of her research for a new article regarding the implication of design thinking in the world of human resources. We recorded our conversation held in a dark and noisy WeWork space some of which I will be sharing in a series of videos and articles.

To begin any conversation about design thinking it is helpful to define what it is. Design thinking has become somewhat of a buzz word these days to the point that it can be seen as white noise or just another passing approach. Simply put, design thinking is a systematic approach to solving problems. It implements methodologies, principles, processes, and mindsets derived from iterative the world of design. It can be used to solve some of the greatest and most complex challenges that an organization may encounter.

Design thinking is a systematic approach to solving problems.

Another aspect of design thinking is its human-centered approach which begins by addressing the needs and desires of the end-users – whether they are customers, consumers, or even employees – in relation to any product, service, or experience they are delivering. When you talk to the end-user first, you are embracing the idea that they are the greatest subject matter experts regarding this particular problem or challenge.

Design thinking requires its practitioners to abstain from taking on the role of consultants – or subject matter experts – no matter how much experience or expertise they may have. They must not assume that they know the best answer to this particular problem. Instead, design thinking practitioners recognize that the best subject matter experts are, in fact, those who are on the front lines of either the customer experience or the employee experience.

Additionally, design thinking also begins with the idea of trying to solve for the right problem. So, in order to provide the best solution, we must first understand what is the right problem for which to solve and this takes a decent amount of research undertaken without bias.

This is where design thinking starts.

In the next several, weeks, I will share other videos explaining why it is important for HR professionals to employ design thinking, why it is challenging for HR to embrace designing thinking in addition to other thoughts.


Steven Chaparro is a keynote speaker and culture design strategist. He helps creative companies transform their workplace culture through co-creative design.

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