I recently attended a SheWorx breakfast event in New York City and learned that if you want to disrupt and innovate, you need a framework. Mona Patel, CEO of Motivate Design and UXHires, spoke about the process she uses as shared in her book, Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think.
We all know that following a design process is a highly regarded approach for innovation. Design thinking is a series of steps that inventors, engineers follow to conceive and test a new solution to a problem. That solution is frequently a product or a service, but it doesn’t have to be.
But design process isn’t just for engineers. Every type of “preneur” — entrepreneur, intrapreneur and social entrepreneur — can use this technique as well. “Reframework,” Patel’s version of the design process, is a set of steps and techniques that move you from feeling stuck with a problem to feeling inspired with an idea. It gives users the tools to jumpstart creative thinking and can be used by startups and companies looking to expand. At the end of the day, the goal of moving through a design process is to better meet the needs of the market by having more customers understand, use and enjoy your products or services.
When beginning the design process:
- Identify your personal fears and excuses, the ones we all have.
- Recognize and push past the stagnant, status quo of internal company thinking.
Sharing ideas can be hard, and getting people to be vulnerable can be difficult. Patel has developed eight overarching personas often found on teams. Identifying personal characteristics is not intended to shame people, but to leaders manage and move past any perceived hurdles.
- The brat: You’re the epitome of entitled and judgmental. The only great ideas are your ideas. You scare everyone else from even coming up with an idea.
- The bullied: You’re the victim — the person who is always taken advantage of. Your mantra is “I can’t.”
- The blamer: It’s never your fault or responsibility. You blame the lack of resources — money, time, talent, etc. — for not coming up with new ideas.
- The bottlenecker: You block the flow ideas because you’re sooo busy.
- The slacker: You’re a procrastinator and the person who never takes charge or responsibility.
- The square: You like to follow rules and regulations. You like clear boundaries.
- The sheep: You like to follow others and go with the flow.
- The scaffolder: You make small problems into bigger problems so they seem impossible to solve.
Once you’ve identified the obstacles, you can kick them to the curb.
How you ask a question matters
Problem-solving is about questioning. Forget simple yes/no questions. Open the conversation by asking open-ended questions that start with one of these words …
- What if?
- Imagine if?
- What if I can’t?
- What if I don’t?
- Why not?
- How about?
Encourage a rebellious mindset. Channel your frustration that something isn’t working into identifying the solution. Patel provides a reframework structure with eight steps. Depending on the situation, you can do all or some of these steps:
- The Real Problem: Identify and gain clarity around the true problem.
- A Different Lens: Look at the problem from the end-user’s point of view.
- Ask ‘What If’: Leave your judgmental self at the door. No idea is a stupid one. You’ll have time to get rid of bad ideas and focus in on the good ones.
- Turn on Funnel Vision: This stage narrows your focus to the best ideas by determining which ones you love, which ones the team will invest in, and which will meet a business or user need.
- Identify Themes: You still may have too many ideas to move forward. Identify themes to focus on those that address the problem rather than the specific solution.
- Excuse Personas: Eliminate internal barriers by identifying and addressing them.
- Rapid Refine: Determine whether your “what if” added to the idea, took away from it or pivoted/changed the idea all together?
- Execute: Identify who the allies are that will help you get your solutions done and what you need from them.
If this high-level view of Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think sounds like a fit for you, the book will provide a more detailed roadmap for taking action. Above all, enjoy the innovation process!