Why Design

Design thinking defined

Using a design mindset can help transform the way organizations bring products, services, processes, and strategies to market. This innovation style, which is known as design thinking, blends what is desirable from a human perspective with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also empowers people who aren’t classically trained as designers to use creative tools to solve all sorts of problems—big and small.

Mileage did not invent the practice of design thinking, but we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to practice and apply the methodology to business & social problems—small and large. In this current season, we are happy to be in the right place at the right time. We’re often asked to define or explain design thinking— How does it work? How to apply it? What do you mean by using design to solve problems? We’ve written this content in response to those requests. Here, we introduce design thinking to you, how it came to be, how it is being used, and steps and tools for using it to find solutions and new sources of revenue

The intersection where we like to live

Design thinking in context

We live, work, and play in a world of interlocking systems, where many of the puzzles we face are dynamic, complex, and intrinsically human. Consider some of the big questions being asked by businesses, government, educational, and social organizations: How will we navigate the day’s disruptive forces, including technology and consumerism? How will we grow and improve in response to rapid transformation? How can we effectively support individuals while simultaneously changing large ecosystems? For us, design thinking offers an approach for addressing these and other big questions.

There isn’t a singular definition for design thinking.

It’s an idea;
It’s a strategy;
It’s a method;
It’s a way of seeing the world.

It’s evolved beyond the constraints of any single person, organization or website— And as it continues to evolve, its impact grows. For Mileage, design thinking is a way to solve problems using creativity. Certainly, it isn’t a fail-safe approach, nor is it the exclusive approach. But based on the impact we see in our work, the relevance of design thinking has never been greater.

Thinking at different levels

Design thinking today

Design thinking is maturing. It’s moving from a promising practice to a respected one, and with that comes excitement and constructive criticism. People are debating its definition, pedigree, and business value. As an enthusiastic practitioner of design thinking, Mileage has a small stake in this conversation—and a duty to contextualize its business value in the present moment and— importantly—in the future.

We’ve learned a lot over the years, and we love to share our insights. We’ve seen design thinking transform lives and organizations, and on occasion, we’ve seen it fall short when approached superficially, or without a stable foundation of knowledge. Design thinking takes repitition, and as a community of designers, entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers, researchers, and more, we’ve been on this journey to mastery, and developed guides and mindsets that can help others.


Designer’s mindset

At Mileage, we are a village of designers who naturally share a mindset due to our passion for solving problems. Our teams include people who’ve trained in applied fields such as industrial design, environmental architecture, visual communication, engineering, and people from law, psychology, business, and many other areas. Together, we have united around design thinking to explain design’s applications and benefit so that others can practice it. Design thinking uses creative activities to nurture collaboration and solve problems using human-centered approaches. We adopt a “beginner’s mindset,” with the intent to remain open and curious, assume nothing, and see ambiguity as an opportunity.

Thinking like a designer requires one to dream up wild ideas, take time to tinker and experiment, and fail early and often. The designer’s mindset leans into empathy, optimism, iteration, creativity, and uncertainty. And most importantly, design thinking keeps people at the center of every thought and loop. The best human-centered designers know that staying focused on the people, you’re designing for—observing and listening to them directly—puts them in position to arrive at optimal solutions that satisfy the needs of the people they are designing for.

The beauty of design thinking is that anyone can approach the world like a designer— but to unlock the true power and to discover how to work as a dynamic problem solver, creative confidence is key. For the founder of Mileage, it all started with one wonderfully designed book, Creative Confidence— https://www.creativeconfidence.com/. The lesson is around the importance of developing your creative confidence, regardless of outside judement and beliving the mindset grows like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. And believing that creativity isn’t the ability to draw or paint or sculpt, but a way of understanding the world around you.

The 3 core activities of design
How a project lifecycle feels

bill bishilany headshot

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving that draws from a designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business growth.

Bill Bishilany

Partner at Mileage Design