Design thinking – it’s all about having an open mind

6 min read

Last updated: Dec. 22, 2021

In May 2018 we were lucky enough to join The Lawyer’s GC Strategy Summit in sunny Spain. Two key sessions that stuck out for us at LOD were one on how to ‘Design Think for In-House Teams’ and one on ‘Releasing Your Inner creative’ – we promise it’s not because we’ve written a toolkit on the very subject.

Often discussion around design thinking focuses on the process – but to make it work for you and your team, it’s also about developing the qualities and mindset that allow creativity and innovation to really take hold. So, to help with this, here are our four key attributes to kick start the process for design thinking and releasing your team’s inner creativity.

Be curious and observe

One of history’s most famous creatives, Leonardo Da Vinci, had a relentless intrigue and curiosity of the world – filling vast numbers of notebooks with his observations. And what really set him apart was his ability to not just look, but truly see what was in front of him.

Now, while we’re not expecting you to turn your legal team into a group of Leonardo’s, they would benefit from simply taking some time to pause, notice and observe things around them. When doing this it’s important to pay attention to the details and not just the top layer – making sure to ask questions to really understand the reason why something is done a particular way.

Be human-centric

Much of the discussion around design thinking is about putting people before processes. This means you need to get to know your ‘users’ – those within the business that you’re providing legal information to. Much of what we experience in the world is based on our individual perception – Laurel? Yanny?

Truly understanding what the world looks like from the perspective of users is a huge challenge for designers. But, by creating and harbouring empathy for your users, you can overcome it. Encourage your team to engage directly with their users and work with them to complete their task or project.

Go beyond your assumptions

We often fall foul of relying on our assumptions to inform what we can and can’t do, or why something is done the way it is. Let’s face it, it’s so easy to follow what’s come before – and enshrined in the way we practice law!

Challenging your assumptions at some point will mean stop theorising and giving something a try. This is where the design thinking process comes into its own – working in iterations, constantly tweaking and trialling different things. In this model you must let go of the fear of failure and instead learn to ‘fail fast’, take your feedback, and improve.

Follow your north star

You can’t afford to let a project become a labour of love. We can’t and shouldn’t try to innovate every thing or process. So, make sure you or your team don’t get bogged down in too many small details that don’t affect the outcomes of what you’re trying to achieve.

Use your company’s strategy as your north star. Setting project goals when you’re working with different parts of the business that will positively impact both team’s strategic objectives will keep everyone’s mind focused.