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Design Thinking for Sustainability

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Design Thinking for Sustainability

Before sustainability: Design Thinking, in a nutshell

Design thinking is an innovative, creative approach to solving some of today’s most complex problems. Design thinking aims to develop creative and user-relevant ideas to find a resolution that positively impacts the future. Design thinking is also referred to as “solution-focused” thinking.

Today, design or solution-focused thinking plays a crucial role when dealing with projects or issues that can impact the future. As a result, the design thinking approach is adopted by many managers, leaders, and teams in various projects, organizations, and businesses all over the globe.

Many might wonder how design thinking is different from analytical thinking or critical thinking. Design thinking involves thinking of a solution to a long-term problem. Analytical thinking often consists in defining and solving the problem upfront. The overall end goal of design thinking is to find a long-term solution to a problem without entirely limiting or knowing exactly what the future will look like.

How Design Thinking Plays a Role in Sustainability

One of the best examples of design thinking at work is human-centered design. Human-centered design specifically addresses human wants and needs. Good design thinking processes aim to serve and manage unmet human needs over the long term rather than focusing on “band-aid” solutions. Making something useable again and again can help it be sustainable as one option. You can read this article for some interesting examples in the more adult sector, which is a significant culprit of unsustainable good production.

Furthermore, as human-centered design becomes more popular and widespread throughout organizations, the importance of adopting this approach and fine-tuning this skill becomes even more critical, particularly as it relates to human needs and sustainable issues.

However, there is some confusion surrounding sustainable and unsustainable issues. For example, there is a robust universal voice for human “sustainability” today. The most common examples are how humans interact with society and the environment to overcome challenges and obstacles. Examples include renewable energy resources, recycling, and “going green.” People and businesses should start recycling items such as cardboard and plastic to help make the environment a better place. For companies looking to improve their recycling strategies, you may want to look at these plastic balers for hire and purchase, which can help you ensure that you and your employees are doing what is suitable for the environment around them.

Consumers can make more environmentally conscious decisions by utilizing green energy plans. Many are switching to programs that allow certain services to have set energy use, such as prepaid lights and other elements that are consistent in energy use. This means that they can cut back on costs and become more environmentally friendly at the same time. If you are looking for a green energy plan provider, using an energy provider comparison site and reading TriEagle Energy reviews and reviews from other similar providers can help you find an energy plan that works for you.

Many believe that sustainable issues have to do with conserving and protecting the planet. Although this is true, there is another layer. “Sustainable” problems relate more to sustaining human existence, which is a significant human need and, therefore, a solid example of human-centered design.

Furthermore, by using design thinking or human-centered design, forward-thinking through the next hundred years, today’s professionals and organizations will be able to effectively address and satisfy human, business, existence, and technological needs.

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Solving Sustainable Issues

Solving sustainable issues begins with asking the right questions and completely understanding them and how they impact humans.

Here are some questions asked by many true design thinkers:

  • Does this project contribute to a future that addresses and satisfies human needs?
  • Is the goal or purpose of the project centered around a cheerful existence for humans and their environment?
  • How can sustainability be measured?
  • What can I do to help my world become more sustainable as a designer?

If a project or goal is not designed with sustainability or the human in mind, then the project’s purpose is moot. This is a complicated design for design thinkers to make, especially those under societal or organizational pressures to “do what the boss wants.”

Here are some things for design thinkers to keep in mind:

1. Asking the Right Questions. Sustainability often sparks questions surrounding society, the environment, business, and the world as we know it. It usually requires asking hefty solutions, thinking outside the box, and considering the common good or overall human impact.

Some common sustainable topics include the subject of waste, using natural resources, recycling and reusing products and resources, purchasing and using locally-grown and produced items, and the impact of human activity (carbon footprint) on climate change.

  1. Learning About Sustainability. Before design thinkers can help save the world, they first need to know more about sustainable issues and topics. Furthermore, understanding what humans and design thinkers can do to help make an impact each day can also allow them to take one step closer to a more sustainable future.

All in all, the more we learn, and the more questions we ask, the better position we are to come up with creative, out-of-the-box, long-term solutions to our world’s biggest challenges.

  1. Sustainable Costs. Design thinkers can’t very well ask questions about sustainability without considering the costs of such projects. Unfortunately, sustainable projects often require sizable investments and rising prices. Therefore, part of the challenge for design thinkers is to think of a solution that reaches sustainable goals and effectively uses resources, including costs.
  2. Sustainable Strategies. Once designer thinkers fully understand the impact of sustainable solutions and associated costs, they can only develop strategies that allow organizations to reach project goals. Over time, designers will be able to integrate their processes into their projects and their work.

Again, as mentioned above, sustainable solutions aren’t meant to be solved in a short amount of time or even immediately. There also isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

  1. Involving Stakeholders. Once design thinkers begin developing their strategies and advocating for them in their projects and organizations, the next step is to apply internal and external stakeholders. It is easy for design thinkers to achieve their project and organizational goals towards sustainable change when all team members and stakeholders are on board. However, this isn’t always possible.

Ultimately, sustainability is most potent and effective when it becomes a core part of the organizational mission.

The Best Strategic Design

Internal and external stakeholders need to be on board with projects and initiatives focused on sustainable change. Therefore, stakeholders and organizations must follow their sustainable practices in daily operations. For example, this could include adopting recycling habits, using and reusing resources, and using more efficient energy sources.

In summary, design thinking plays a crucial role in addressing and solving sustainability issues today. The purpose behind design thinking or human-centered thinking is taking an “agile” approach to solving problems effectively.

Taking an innovative approach towards your projects and your organization can be challenging. However, having an external team on your side can help.

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