How to Problem Solve with Design Thinking

Design isn’t just choosing the right images and fonts for your next website revision. It’s a problem-solving process that incorporates the needs of guests, team members, and partners in your mission. It’s a way of working that creates and refines real-world situations.

Design is the secret weapon of organizations that gives them a strategic advantage in figuring out what services their guests need and in defining the exact characteristics of every guest interaction. Design helps you understand how a guest accesses your website, what a guest is likely to do as they approach your campus, and gives you clues about creating a welcoming environment.

Design is the most important discipline that you’ve probably never heard of.

The right Guest Experience changes, implemented the right way, won’t just fall into your lap. You must actively design them. This requires learning – and then sticking to – the steps in a human-centered design process.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Design Thinking for the Greater Good by Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman, and Daisy Azer

Facing especially wicked problems, social sector organizations are searching for powerful new methods to understand and address them. Design Thinking for the Greater Good goes in depth on both the how of using new tools and the why. As a way to reframe problems, ideate solutions, and iterate toward better answers, design thinking is already well established in the commercial world. Through ten stories of struggles and successes in fields such as health care, education, agriculture, transportation, social services, and security, the authors show how collaborative creativity can shake up even the most entrenched bureaucracies―and provide a practical roadmap for readers to implement these tools.

The design thinkers Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman, and Daisy Azer explore how major agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Transportation and Security Administration in the United States, as well as organizations in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, have instituted principles of design thinking. In each case, these groups have used the tools of design thinking to reduce risk, manage change, use resources more effectively, bridge the communication gap between parties, and manage the competing demands of diverse stakeholders. Along the way, they have improved the quality of their products and enhanced the experiences of those they serve. These strategies are accessible to analytical and creative types alike, and their benefits extend throughout an organization. This book will help today’s leaders and thinkers implement these practices in their own pursuit of creative solutions that are both innovative and achievable.


In today’s increasingly fast-paced and unpredictable environment, church leaders need to be involved in design thinking more than ever. Design is all about action, and churches too often get stuck at the talking stage.

Face it – despite all our planning and analyzing and controlling, the typical church’s track record at translating its rhetoric into results is not impressive.

Moments matter. And what an opportunity we miss when we leave them to chance!

  • All it takes is a bit of insight and forethought.
  • All it takes is for you to think like a designer.

One of the biggest contributions of design thinking is to hold us in the problem space long enough to develop the kind of deeper insights into the problem that foster more creative ideas later on.

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach with a unique set of qualities: it is human-centered, possibility driven, option focused, and iterative.

A learning mindset, empathetic understanding of stakeholders, and an experimental approach to solving problems is what design thinking’s methodology and tool kit are all about.

How is design thinking going to do this? By providing the tools to answer a simple series of questions:

    • What is? explores current reality.

    • What if? generates ideas.

    • What wows? finds the sweet spot.

    • What works? launches and learns.

These four questions build bridges to more innovative solutions via a systematic, data-driven approach to creativity. This might sound like an oxymoron, but we don’t believe it is. By breaking the process into four questions, potential design thinkers can explore the “how to” in a way that feels safe and structured to both leaders who think in details and those who thrive in innovation and creativity.

These strategies are accessible to analytical and creative types alike, and their benefits extend throughout an organization.

Jeanne Liedtka, Randy Salzman, and Daisy Azer Design Thinking for the Greater Good


As a way to reframe problems, ideate solutions, and iterate toward better answers, design thinking shows how collaborative creativity can shake up even the most entrenched bureaucracies, providing a practical roadmap to innovative, achievable solutions.

Use the four-question design thinking process listed above, think of another future Guest Experience action you would like to implement, and write it on a chart tablet.

On four separate chart tablets, write the four questions. Spend at least thirty minutes discussing each question, and write down notes and highlights of each discussion on the appropriate chart tablet.

At the end of the discussion, select the top three items from each of the four questions. As a team, decide how you will proceed with this action, who will lead the effort, and when the target launch day is. Turn them loose on the “how.”

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<


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