On a fine morning in 2016, after months of agonising and contemplating, I decided to switch careers and turn to ‘design’. This was no easy decision after working as an IT professional for a year. Not to mention four tedious years of studying engineering and planning a fancy career around the ever-booming, ever-expanding IT industry. While I did all this, my heart was somewhere else—it belonged with colours and creativity. Not just now, but even as a child. I was always skilled at painting and creating. Creating anything. It just had to be artistic.
So, the time I worked as an IT professional, I probably went through the greatest dilemma of my life. Whether to quit and do what my heart craved or stick to what the plan was all along and try to do my best. The truth was, I had the skills for design and art, but here I was writing code. Cut to that fine morning, I made up my mind.
It is easier said than done. I was a long way from answering the HOWs and WHATs of ‘design as a career’. And just like that, my luck turned. Over a cup of coffee on a cold winter evening, I came across the concept that was to change my life forever. ‘Design Thinking’—a solution-based approach to problem-solving, read the Google search result.
Just to set the context right for you, Design Thinking was first mentioned by American economist and cognitive psychologist Herbert Simon in his 1969 book, The Sciences of the Artificial. Simon defined it as a tool that helps you unchain yourself from problems using design strategies. He primarily discovered this iterative technique to help individuals make decisions, eliminating doubt and confusion. The first steps of the process are generating ideas, testing those ideas, and recording feedback from every problem until you have a viable solution.
And so I did exactly this—I came up with various career ideas, tested those ideas, and recorded my feedback on each idea.
Here’s a snapshot of how I used design thinking to navigate a new career path using these five key steps: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. And what did I gain in the process? Saved time and money, and bypassed the frustration of leaving my comfort zone and entering the unknown.