Some problems are seemingly intractable. One for you right now might be: “How do I plan for August when the current easing of social distancing and isolation restrictions may get reversed in a week, in a month or in the last week of July?”

One answer is to use Design Thinking, to work smart in addition to remaining agile. Design Thinking is a way of identifying new and innovative ideas. Sometimes to develop new products or services. And just as often to identify solutions to problems, especially intractable ones.

The five-stage process I use when facilitating Design Thinking for clients is the five-phase model of the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University:

  • Empathise – with stakeholders.
  • Define – their needs, problems and insights you have about them.
  • Ideate – challenge your assumptions to create innovative solutions.
  • Prototype – to start creating solutions.
  • Test – solutions.

Last week I asked you to test assumptions in relation to how various scenarios might play out over the coming months. The difference now in design thinking mode is that I’m asking you to test your assumptions about how your organisation can respond. That is, I am asking you to ideate, prototype and test your way to better ways of running your business so you can thrive under any scenario. The most successful organisations over the next six months will be the ones that work smart as well as being agile.

Want some examples? How about organisations such as boutique breweries manufacturing hand sanitiser. Schools working out how to teach online. Fitness centres becoming suppliers of gym equipment on short-term rental agreements. And bars and restaurants looking to design take-home experiences – cocktails, wine plus dishes that present well out of a plastic tub!

Over the past 10 weeks I have been writing about Adaptive Leadership. I have wrapped my thoughts up into a paper and it is my pleasure to share it with you Adaptive Leadership: Working smart while being agile.

Stay safe and adapt - quickly.

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