• Ana Laura Zain

How design thinking helped me launch my marketing agency

If you know me, you probably know I launched my agency Clickconnect just recently. The idea of having a service-based-business has been on my mind for some time, but although I would feel that “excitement” when talking about it or thinking about it, I felt stuck and things weren’t just flowing. 

Until I discovered a very powerful design thinking process. 

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Tim Brown, Executive Chair of Ideo

Design Thinking is both an ideology and a process, concerned with solving complex problems in a highly user-centric way. 

But why is this method better than others? Or why does it work? Design thinking has long been considered the holy grail of innovation—and the remedy to stagnation. It has been credited with remarkable feats, like transforming Airbnb from a failing startup to a billion-dollar business

Truly mastering design thinking takes time, practice, and mentorship. But there are a few things you can do to get started and make sure you are following the main steps, and don’t get stuck in the process.

In this article, I list a step-by-step guide on how to apply design thinking to your personal and professional life. 

Note to readers: This is my preferred process using specific methods. There are a lot of resources online and different methods to choose from. I recommend this Design kit as an extra set of resources. 

The 5-stage process 

#1- Discovering

Define the issue: what is the problem you want to solve? And how is this issue affecting your life and/or projects? 

When I kicked off this process last year, my main concern or issue was not being able to launch my agency. I didn’t know why I was so stuck and although I knew I had to start somewhere, it was very hard for me to find the reasons or main blockers.

#2- Reveal underlying causes of the issue

The five whys method. The Five Whys is a fantastic method to use to get to the core of a person’s beliefs and motivations. This is a great exercise to do with a friend, colleague or partner. 

Start with a pretty broad question. For me it was “why are you not launching your agency?” Write down everything. A more detailed guide can be accessed here

Why applying the five whys method? It will help you understand your key barriers and challenges, which are helpful for the next step in the design thinking process.

When I did this exercise, after the 5 whys, I realised that my main blocker was confidence. The lack of confidence was preventing me from getting started.

#3- Mindmapping

What are the things that you can control or the resources you have in order to achieve your goal? Based on your key challenges discovered using the 5 whys method, select the most important challenge and write it down, in the middle of a paper. Your statement should look like this:

How can I [feelings/assets/resources/things in your control] in order to [goal/positive impact in your life]

Then start brainstorming and adding all the resources you need. Consider places, people, things, skills, assets to brainstorm all possible solutions.

This is how mine looked like.

#4- Prioritize

List solutions from the quickest access to the most complex ones. The easiest way is to put numbers next to the ideas.

Once you’ve done that, add dates and create a timeline. I listed daily, weekly and monthly goals. 

Have this list handy and somewhere you can see it every day. I recommend the whiteboard or post-it notes (I prefer physical than digital tools for these exercises).

#5- Test and repeat.

Kick-off the process!

Define a time to action and a timeline to reassess the success and learnings from your experience. The most important thing to notice here is that design thinking is a non-linear process. 

design thinking

image source

To recap the process: 

  1. Discovery

  2. The 5 whys method

  3. Mindmapping

  4. Prioritize

  5. Test & repeat

I have to say that this process and work helped me get organised, feel more confident and also - work on my goals every single day. I started with the design thinking method back in September last year and officially launched Clickconnect.io in January, so for me, that was a big success! 

Have you tried similar processes? Share your experience with us!

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