It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…design thinker!

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

At the Berkeley Innovation Group, we believe that “design thinking” is a bad name for a good idea. At its core, design thinking is much less about “thinking” than about making – and not making people really want things, but making things people really want.

To craft the products, services, and experiences that delight customers, design thinking’s move-fast-and-create-things mentality demands dynamism between a deep understanding of what’s happening now and a powerful vision of what can be radically better.  

In that sense, design thinking is a superpower. It’s the ability to time-travel, to move freely between the present and the future, to simultaneously acknowledge what is while boldly envisioning what could be. Design thinkers commit to seeing, understanding, and trying (and failing, and trying again) to bridge the gap between today and tomorrow.

Design thinkers vividly imagine but never pretend: when we are focused on the current state, we do not ignore constraints, wave away facts, or finger-cross for best-case scenarios. In that sense, and contrary to popular belief, the best designers are equal parts idealists and realists.

Design thinkers admit, without shame or apology, that while we may not yet have an answer (not “the” answer!), we believe wholeheartedly that one exists and we will find it.

That’s why design thinking, as a process, is inherently optimistic. It confers the courage to unflinchingly explore the ugliest of reality’s underbellies because of an enduring faith that even the most wicked of problems are conquerable. Design thinking isn’t about wishing or hoping for or “thinking” about change. Design thinking is about making change happen.