Edelman Digital


Applying Design Thinking




MATTER*, a Chicago-based health technology incubator that Edelman recently formed a partnership with, last week brought board member David Schonthal of IDEO in to host an “Intro to Design Thinking” workshop.

Schonthal introduced three simple goals for igniting creativity in your work: learn about the world, have some ideas about the world and make those ideas real. From that framework, the following five “design thinking” strategies can help you turn those creative wheels more effectively to deliver great work:

  1. Listen to the user

Often design thinking is boxed into the development of products and services. However, a key component is user experience. So make yourself the buyer, the patient, the employee, etc. For example, ask people with diabetes what challenges they face managing their treatment, or new parents what anxieties they face building a grocery list for their children. The deeper you understand what it’s like to rely on your client’s products or services, the better you’ll be able to communicate and engage with an audience that does.

  1. Observe all you can

Recall designers are often builders of objects and collateral, but most importantly they are thinkers and problem-solvers. We’re often limited by personal experiences that prevent us from seeing the simple answer to a complicated question. To combat this, challenge yourself to enter new environments through new contexts and examine your surroundings with a lens of curiosity. You might find you enjoy the mundane – grocery shopping, doctor visits, sporting events, etc. – more when you consider how other people approach it.

  1. Align the desirable with the viable and feasible

Sustainable innovation fails when these three imperatives don’t align. Yes, we can execute the quintessential communications marketing tactics for our clients, but we should always determine if their audiences appreciate it or find value in its content. Understanding audience desire will also help extend your campaign’s KPIs beyond impressions and clicks.

  1. Defer judgment for a little while

When generating ideas, focus first on quantity not quality. Chances are you and your team might not know the next best step for making an idea happen, but in your network there are certainly more brains to pick from. So let those seemingly unviable ideas play out in your brainstorms. Make mistakes early and understand why something failed, because it’s both cheaper and more efficient to fail earlier in the planning process.

  1. Launch to learn

You don’t need a fully executed project to receive feedback. Design thinking recognizes that anything can be prototyped, and done so in a myriad of mediums. Seek out feedback early and often, even if it’s by reciting a few lines of copy to your office neighbor.

Katie Fusco is an assistant account executive with the Health practice in Chicago.

*Pro-bono Edelman client

Contact us

Contact us

Edelman is interested in hearing from you. Please select your primary interest.