Design thinking has become a major focus in recent years. As with many innovative thinking and business concepts, design thinking promises companies a chance to become the next Apple or Target.

What is design thinking and how can you find the right design thinking course to train your employees?

Defining Design Thinking

Ask three different design thinking gurus exactly what “Design Thinking” is, and you’ll probably get three different answers. In one Big Think article on the topic, design thinking pioneer Tim Brown of IDEO (a global design company specializing in “human-centered design”) defines it as “a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Another article by Creativity at Work defines design thinking as “a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients.”

The core definition of design thinking for organizations is that it is a method of applying basic principles of creative design to business challenges—NOT about how to optimize the physical form of a product.

Finding a Great Design Thinking Course for Your Employees

Finding the right design thinking course for your employees can be difficult. First, you’ll need to decide if you want to send your employees to a traditional school for design thinking, or if you’d prefer an online-based curriculum that’s a bit more flexible and convenient.

What to Look for in a Traditional Curriculum

There are a lot of online schools and traditional campuses that offer “design thinking” courses, but sorting out the good from the bad can be time-consuming.

One place to start is from recommendations by trusted names in the field of design thinking—such as the ones highlighted in a Big Think article about four of the leading educational establishments spearheading the design thinking movement:

  1. Strelka Institute (Moscow)
  2. Aalto-Tongji Design Factory (Shanghai)
  3. Stanford d.school (Palo Alto, California)
  4. Akiyama Mokko (Yokohama)

These institutions were vetted by Monocle, a magazine focused on business, culture, and design.

Another step in finding the right design thinking course for your employees is to get answers to a few basic questions about the course. For example,

  • What classes are required to complete the program?
  • Is there required reading for each class?
  • What’s the graduation rate for applicants?
  • What does the course cost per employee?
  • What results has the course produced for other companies?
  • Is the course/school well-established?

Getting answers to these questions can tell you a lot about how effective and well-designed the program is. A course that lacks a list of required texts and classes, and also doesn’t have (or make available) any kind of track record, is less likely to be valuable for your company than one with a proven course structure and history of return on investment. Also, if the course is more focused on the act of design or on aesthetics than on critical thinking and process innovation, it might not be a true design thinking course.

What to Look for in an Online Training Course

One major issue with a design thinking training program (or any other kind of employee training course) is that most full-time employees don’t have the free time necessary to physically travel to a class and the ancillary activities that traditional lecture-based schooling requires.

Not only are long lectures boring to employees, but they also take away from productive employee time for your company and often result in low information retention—making them costly with little return on investment.

On the other hand, online courses with short-format training content, such as quick online training videos, are easier for employees to mentally digest and aren’t as disruptive to their work schedules. This improves engagement with the training as well as information retention—fueling better training outcomes.

When vetting an online course, don’t just consider how convenient and accessible the training resources are, but also who is delivering those resources. For example, does the training feature content from well-known authorities in design thinking? Odds are content featuring popular subject matter experts is more likely to get engagement from your employees.

Overall, online training courses using short-form videos that highlight well-known design thinking gurus can be more economical and effective than traditional class settings.

Why Use Design Thinking?

Design thinking, as a methodology, empowers employees to find new and creative solutions to traditional business challenges, helping make the company as a whole more flexible and responsive.

In a constantly evolving business world, flexibility and the ability to innovate can mean the difference between becoming the next Amazon or the next Waldenbooks.

Learn more about design thinking and other business topics from the experts in Big Think Edge’s online training courses!{{cta(’30a34b01-fcd0-4a76-890b-ae4019ef3e2e’,’justifycenter’)}}