Since design thinking is a way of leading with creativity, it encourages embracing ambiguity, uncertainty and curiosity. One of the greatest challenges any organization or team will face lies in how it effectively manages competing interests, differing views, disagreement and conflict, all of which are natural contributors to innovation. One of the key advantages design thinking organizations have in common is that design thinking offers a platform for the constructive management of diverse thinking and strategies. In spending resources to teach design thinking to their members and develop it as a core competency, they leverage the benefit they get from using it as a management tool for converting disagreement into fuel for creativity and innovation.
The reality is that every organization has its struggles in dealing with the differing points of view, values, and beliefs we all have. As a result, we don’t generally listen to one another very well. Not only does design thinking provide a framework for people to express themselves, it also provides a platform for listening and empathy. Empathy, as displayed through genuine inquiry and expression, is paramount for users of design thinking and, as the result of lessened levels of fear, leads to the increased levels of emotional maturity and safety that directly impacts how diverse views and ideas are constructively managed.
One of the culture keys, and a cornerstone to how people interpret culture, is how disagreement and conflict are managed. It has a great deal to do with how people feel safe in a culture, including their experience of what is acceptable and safe behavior, and what is considered unacceptable and unsafe. More than at any other moment in time, people learn about the culture they’re in when they experience conflict. One of questions that we asked in our research, and that wound up providing us one of the key attributes consistent across our study group organizations, focused on the influence that the use of design thinking has on how people manage disagreement and conflict.
Interestingly, a sense of curiosity is also a characteristic of genius. Most notably, one’s curiosity quotient (CQ) is a critical contributor to one’s level of social intelligence. Research shows that curious people have more friends, more significant relationships, and are viewed by others more highly. In light of their increased ability to be more inquiring, others see them as more considerate, interested, and empathetic. As a result, they are seen as more likable. Lastly, research indicates that people who are curious are happier, healthier, more productive, and have better social relationships.
- Design thinking provides an effective tool for confronting and managing disagreement and conflict.
- Organizations using design thinking have a belief in and positive mindset about curiosity.
- People who use design thinking demonstrate better inquiry and listening skills, which is key in managing disagreement and conflict effectively.
- Because design thinking skills can be applied to dealing with disagreement and conflict, confrontation happens in a more timely and healthier manner, thereby avoiding much of the dysfunction and consequences associated with it.
- Design thinking is a valued process for confronting disagreements and misalignment’s among functions, and their leaders, and effectively breaking down unhealthy silos.
- This creates synergy, design thinking organizations leverage creativity.
This post is based on over 70 interviews of some of the most advanced design thinking organizations in the world. Leadership psychologist Edgar Papke and I dove deep into the intersection of innovation, design thinking and corporate culture, and just published our analysis in our new book Innovation by Design.