Develop these 9 habits to be a great human-centred designer.

As human-centred designers, we seek to deeply understand the values, motivations and emotions behind peoples’ behaviours to uncover latent needs. Our mindset, attitudes and beliefs can affect our ability to truly connect with the perspective of the people we are designing with and for, and we can end up projecting our own perspective onto what we hear and see. Over time we can develop habits that counter our own biases, and enable us to go deep with people to open up new possibilities. 

The 9 habits:

1 - Adopt a beginner’s mind.

Be constantly curious and don’t make assumptions. Have more questions than answers and explore situations through open questions, clarifying questions and encouraging dialogue. Seek to understand and build empathy.

2 - Invite diversity.

Respect all points of view, because multiple perspectives are valuable when resolving complex problems. Keep an open mind while conducting research and collecting information. Know that every person has their own truth.

3 - Be open to experimentation. 

Always be ready to give something a try. Through prototyping and testing, clarify options that work and those needing improvement.  Evolve experiences and services through testing and iteration. See experimentation as a way of life.

4 - Embrace resilient optimism.

Prototyping is an opportunity to learn what works, and when it doesn’t work, that’s good too. When something doesn’t work, the ‘F’ word is nowhere around. (I mean failure of course!) You just learned what won’t work and saved your organisation money and rework. See failure as success.

5 - Take a broad view.

Look as broadly as possible in every situation. You need the perspectives of the people you design with and for. You also need the perspective of the organisation that will deliver your design AND other people within the ecosystem you are considering. You need to think holistically and not in isolated parts. 

6 - Choose collaboration as a default.

Ideas spark best between people. To understand complexity holistically you need multiple views and perspectives. Build an environment of trust so you can collaborate fiercely.

7 - Be comfortable with ambiguity.

Remember that ambiguity and uncertainty are part of the design method and be happy to sit within this discomfort. Sitting outside your comfort zone leads to new innovative ideas and great outcomes for people.

8 - Hold space for robust discussion.

If everyone thinks alike and agrees, nothing new emerges. Remain unattached to your ideas and create a safe space for others to voice opinions, encouraging robust discussion and respectful challenges. Let everyone know everything is up for question.

9 - Allow the answers to emerge.

The first and obvious answer is unlikely the best answer. Remain fully conscious of solution seduction and avoid jumping to conclusions or rushing to find the “answer”. Sitting without clarity in the problem space allows you to reframe what you see and assume to know and allows for new opportunity spaces to open up.