The one thing you need to add to your toolbox today…

This past week, I was very honored to have my long-time mentor, whom I truly look up to, came to my Meetup to speak about insights she has gathered on Service Design from her industry and research work over the years. While there were many great learnings from the talk, there was one thing that truly resonated with me which is the importance of how to think!

In preparation for the meetup, as always, I’d have a few calls to do the walkthrough with the speaker. During our last call, I asked her that as an educator, what is the tool she’s teaching her students today? Given the type of audience I have in my Meetup community, I know people would be very interested in learning what they must do in order to keep up with the rapid change of technology + design trend today. She said to me…she will think about it and let me know. During her talk on Tuesday, as she went over the history of how design thinking was formed, where the trend of “service design” has begun, and etc. She didn’t once mention what the “it” thing would be until the end. As she wrapped up the talk, she briefed the audience my question to her in our preparation call. Then she said, it’s the mindset! The mindset is what a person must learn in order to do the right thing. The ability of knowing how to think is what we will need to keep up with the change. I thought to myself — That is so true!

Why? If you wonder…Let’s be real here. There are many different methodologies we can find on the internet, in the books, and many many other mediums. But if you’re really a design thinking practitioner, you know that all these methods, processes, steps are all the same difference. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 steps vs. 5 steps. The amount of post-its or fancy offices are not what you need to drive a successful project. It is only when you can think of the problem from the right mindset — a curious and empathetic mind, that is when you can see things differently and approach them with the necessary tools.

Her talk indeed reminded me the conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a very seasoned UX designer recently. Maybe it’s a designer’s thing but I find myself often asking people to share with me what books they’re reading and hoping to get new ideas or inspirations from them. So when I asked my friend if he’s come across any good UX readings lately, he simply replied and said that “not anymore”. When I asked him why, he basically told me that he doesn’t need another book to teach him the methodologies. A good UX designer is a person who knows how to think and be creative in solving problems, especially when there are lots lots of constraints! For beginners, you might need to learn how to get into the mindset but well-trained designers already knew that…yes we need to do research, and…yes we need to gain empathies, and… of course, we’d like to get validations done. But let’s be real here…these things, or the so-called processes are never linear. In fact, we all know what we need to do but the good designers are the ones who know how to solve them creatively and who know how to connect the dots across different stakeholders!

The bottomline is, it is easy to learn a tool but it is much harder to get into the right mindset. So yea, if you have the right mindset, you will figure out the way to do the right thing!

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