Elements of Design: Inside the Workplace

It is commonly thought that designers are separate from the rest of the business world,
and that their tactics and approach are something that others cannot understand or are
unwilling to do. Conversely, what is true is that the elements and practices of design and
design thinking can be used within almost any business realm and for any person. Think
of it as a hidden toolbox that other businesses have not found or at least haven’t pried
it open to see what’s inside. In the content below, we will discuss some basic design
elements and theory that your business can apply right now and everyday.

We all did it in primary school: brainstorming. That classic image of the brain being
zapped with electric volts and a swirl of thunderclouds and rain showers is not just a
tactic to be used in writing an essay––it can actually improve your business. Let’s say
you have a new project and have no idea where to start. Some, if not most, people think
of an idea and run with it, but nevertheless what happens next is often that that first idea
may not be the best and may not even work as a solution. Brainstorming, or as in design
terms, diverging is a very powerful tool. (tip: A great place to find ideas and methods for
brainstorming is Mindtools.com)

Okay, so you diverged. Your plate is full of a variety of ideas. Now what do you do?
The next step is to set up criteria and narrow down the list, but how does someone do
that? What is good or bad criteria? Simply put, the criteria should be your goals with
the project or solution. What do you want to accomplish with this idea? What are your
resources? What is a realistic solution? These questions can help cut down the pile of
ideas and clarify exactly what you seek to achieve. After setting up criteria to judge the
pile ideas, the next step is to simply narrow down to your best ideas, which is normally
around three to four.

The next step can be a mix of many techniques to finally pick the solid idea. You could
get an outsider’s perspective, such as a fellow colleague, to see which of the ideas they
see as the best fit. Another idea is to make prototypes, or in other words, try each idea out
to see if it works. The one with the least amount of flaws or hurdles is probably your best
solution.

The final step, now that you have picked and tried your final idea, is to implement it.
This means to put it into action and complete the project. It is important that at this stage
you track its success. For example, if it is a blog post, like this one, did people enjoy and
understand its content? Did it get shared? At the end of the day, are people, your audience
reading it? Doing this will help you see what works and what doesn’t. Business, just like
design, is a game of trial and error. However, all of these techniques can really help both
broaden your perspective and make typical work a bit more involved and engaging.

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