Ringing in the New Year and Bringing in Design Thinking

Ringing in the New Year and Bringing in Design Thinking

Stephanie Czuhajewski, MPH, CAE, Executive Director

AuDacity 2020 introduced design thinking and some of its practical applications for audiology. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Amyn Amlani and Dr. Kate Baldocchi, whose advice was invaluable to building the program. Through their efforts, and the commitment of hundreds of willing, wonderful audiologists, students, and industry leaders from around the world, we were able to come together virtually to focus intently on design thinking components. One of my resolutions for 2021 is to apply design thinking skills to more effectively advance ADA initiatives and to better serve ADA members.

One main takeaway from AuDacity’s design thinking sessions was the emphasis on the value of examining processes through the eyes and experiences of the end-user. Using observation that is grounded in empathy can provide valuable insight for evaluating any type of business or clinical process. Patience and a commitment to listen for the purpose of understanding (not for the purpose of responding) is a skill that must be developed to successfully apply design thinking to a problem. As the “define” principle was reinforced throughout the day, I found myself increasingly aware (as one who is prone to jump directly to brainstorming and problem solving) that I need to focus more intentionally on problem definition going forward.

The other design thinking concept that resonated strongly with me is the need to be liberal with prototyping and testing. Like many of us, I naturally seek to limit potential solutions to reduce the likelihood of failure. Yet, when it comes to innovation, epic failures are often more illuminating and drive bigger improvements than the prototypes that result in limited (safe) successes. A propensity towards risk in designing programs and services runs counter to my conditioning, so I look forward to growing in this area during 2021. One strategy that I plan to employ is to adopt a research mental- ity, which will help remove emotion and self-blame from prototype experiments that fail.

I look forward to ringing in 2021 and bringing in design thinking as a tool to evaluate processes and improve ADA member experiences. In the meantime, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! ■