I spoke at a recent “Lean In: Power Women NYC” circle, which was an evening presentation to a group of women entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Design Thinking and Your Career: The Presentation
I provided a tailored session to introduce Lean In Circle members to Design Thinking and practical ways to apply the five stages of design to critical points in one’s career.
I illustrated these examples using three “Journey Studies” (my term for “case studies” which reflect personal and pivotal career maneuvers).
We covered topics like how I landed in my career, transtioned to a foreign management consulting practice in Austria/Switzerland/Germany as a leader, found passion for psychology through design, and built a program around my master’s research — men and diversity — while working full-time.
A Summary of Key Takeaway Points
– In design thinking for business, Ideation often happens purposefully, in a room with team members, post-it notes and desired outcome. In design thinking for our own careers, Ideation really happens organically — in the shower, at 2am when we awake from a dream, while commuting. Breakthrough ideas are going to happen!
– The Empathy stage allows us the space to “make sense of the mess” when we are looking at changing a career or making another life change. “The mess” may indeed feel messy, but it really is an opportunity to gather data about what’s happening and how it sits with us.
– Prototype and Test phases allow us to “just try it out.” We don’t jump careers if we feel burnt out; rather we explore different environments to really understand where the source of our burnout might be. Similarly, if we’re passionate about something, we try it out, test it, and see what feedback we get; it need not be perfect (e.g. the perfect manuscript, the perfect website), as long as we are getting feedback and informing our next decision.
– Metaphors are a quick way to reframe and ideate! We use metaphors to reflect our current situation, so that we can assess it in a new, fresh way. I had each woman think of her own metaphor to describe her career at this moment, and then network with a partner to share and get an added perspective.
My personal metaphor? A box of Nerds. (See: footnote)
At the end of the session, each woman walked out with her own box of Nerds, as ongoing inspiration to apply design and metaphors to creatively think about her various life journeys.
Though I was the speaker, my own journey has been memorably influenced by being part of this evening. The room — a beautiful space hosted by Oracle, on the 26th floor of Park Avenue — was buzzing with new connections, shared ideas and buoyant laughter. I was also deeply touched to see so many of my own personal “tribe” of women join: close girlfriends, professional colleagues, my executive coach, my fashion designer, even a LinkedIn contact who I’d never met, but runs in similar circles.
Lean In circle host, Monica, has done a wonderful job creating a place for women to really discover new perspectives, creatively brainstorm, and network — which, in no uncertain terms, truly embodies the human-centric spirit that lies at the heart of design thinking.
For more information about applying design thinking strategies to your career journey, contact Rachana.
* Footnote: Box of Nerds metaphor — like all metaphors — is open to your own preferred interpretation.