How does Design Thinking compare with Switch Thinking?

I was just asked by a potential client how does Design Thinking compare with Switch Thinking.

It’s a great question.

They are similar in that they are both concerned with thinking but that is where the comparison ends.

It’s a bit like comparing boxing with Kung Fu, they are both Martial Arts but very different in philosophy and approach.

I must point out however that I am not a Design Thinking expert so my comments are based on my (limited) experience and reading on this approach.

Lets start with Design Thinking:

  • Usually it involves a 5 step process process consisting of: 1. Empathize, 2. Define, 3. Ideate, 4. Prototype and 5. Test. (according to the Interaction Design Foundation)
  • Design Thinking typically is used for big, often system wide, complex and uncertain problems (i.e. wicked problems)
  • The starting point is developing a deep understanding of the client, customer or user
  • The goal of Design Thinking is usually around building a new product, service or customer experience.
  • It typically involves Design Thinking experts working in a project team, over an extended period.
  • Design Thinking projects are infrequent, large scale and can be costly.
  • One of the features of Design Thinking that I admire is it’s emphasis on early prototyping and quick customer or user feedback.

My personal observation is that Design Thinking is very good at uncovering consumer needs, goals and desires and its emphasis on developing and testing new potential concepts.

I believe Design Thinking is a powerful process and tool kit but could also be made more creative, inclusive, faster and cheaper.

Switch Thinking

  • The goal of Switch Thinking is to help the individual, group or team to change their thinking quickly. By doing so a person can get unstuck, see a situation in a fresh way or generate a new idea or solution.
  • Switch Thinking is a skill that anyone can develop through practice.
  • It can be used by any individual, group or team.
  • Switch Thinking can be used on any size problem, challenge or situation.
  • There is not a formal 5 step process for example. All it takes is for someone to switch their thinking for example: What don’t we switch the questions we are asking? Or What happens if we switch an assumption? Ot could we switch our perspective? What might a startup do?
  • There are 6 ways or switches anyone can use to help switch their thinking.
  • These are perspective, problem, outcome, focus, questions or rules.
  • The starting point of Switch Thinking may or may not be the customer or user.
  • The results of Switch Thinking are often instantaneous. These might include a fresh insight, new perspective, a breakthrough idea, solution or a feeling of being unstuck.
  • You do not have to be an expert to use Switch Thinking.

Switch Thinking can be used by any individual regardless of education and background. It’s an open, exploratory and collaborative way to explore new modes of thinking (e.g. Systems, Creative, Lateral, Associative, Imagination and Visual to name a few). Often a small change in thinking can have a big impact on understanding, actions and energy levels.

Switch Thinking can be used with great effect in any interview, meeting, presentation, sales call for example. In fact, it can be used every day at work, home, in relationships or on the sporting field.

Both Design Thinking and Switch Thinking have their place depending on the need, problem, time available, budget and people involved.

Check out the 6 Switches Canvas. It’s simple, practical and free.