As an entrepreneur, I have been designing products, services and solutions for most of my professional life.
Still, I have never considered myself a designer -- not until now.
So, what changed?
The one concept that has helped me bridge the gap between being "someone who designs" and being a "designer" is this notion of being "mindful of process". This is one of the first concepts that you learn at the d.school. In other words, being "mindful of process" means being thoughtful not only about what work you do, but also how you do it, and more importantly how you can improve your methods the next time you do that same work.
So, the long and the short of it is, you too can become a designer. I suggest you try it using these three steps:
#1 - Pick one among the challenges you face daily. It can be as simple as refining the best way to commute to work, or as complex as designing your own methods to put your baby to sleep with minimum crying and maximum speed. Just pick one.
#2 - Develop an awareness for the process you follow to tackle that challenge. In particular, notice some of the changes you've made recently to improve your outcomes. Be mindful about what works and what doesn't, and how you iterate your solutions to make continuous improvements.
#3 - Now comes the hardest part. Say this to yourself: I am a designer.
Done! You are a designer. We all are! Welcome to the club!
Now, becoming a good designer is a whole other ball game. It really takes a lot of practice. Honestly, I am not even close, but I think I am getting better every day.
In the meantime, I am happy to share my own Design Thinking Cheat Sheet. Here it is, I hope you find it useful: