One of the keys to design thinking is research.

The most successful organisations for which I’ve consulted invest heavily in research. The more exploration you do, the more knowledge and understanding you’ll have for your area of interest and respect for the people who may have pioneered the way earlier.

The exploration stage also involves looking at your idea’s potential: What’s been done around this topic before? What can I learn from it? What are the constraints, potential flaws, and watch-outs with it? What are the possibilities (as wild and wacky as they may be)? Should I commit to them?

Exploration also makes the execution stage of your ideas easier and more effective. Exploring the production and construction techniques before execution will help you to find out which materials are best to use, what technologies exist to help you create your product, the skills or services required, and the best way to construct the best product possible.

One of the the best ways to research is to become a nerd. The more nerd-like you can become by being fascinated by things that you come across every day the more likely you’ll find great ideas to help your own.

Outside of the traditional meaning of a socially awkward and outcast smart person, being a nerd means being fascinated by things that we come across every day. When we see something interesting, rather than discounting it and moving on, being a nerd means that we ponder the value in the idea.

Always be on the look out for ideas and solutions that will help you resolve your own issues. Ask, “How will this help my idea?” of anything that grabs your attention. You’ll soon notice ideas and solutions popping up all the time.

A billboard that so eloquently puts a point across with its great copywriting might inspire you, or the packaging of your breakfast cereal. Look at everything as a potential solution.

Just as becoming aware of great objects or services can help you get more creative, becoming aware of the products and services that annoy you can also fuel your creative thinking. All you need to do is ask: what is it that annoys me about this product? Then start to ask yourself what things would you do to improve it? Is there something you can learn from it? Why? What did it do to you? How would it make you feel?

By focussing on what’s annoying about a product and asking what is driving the annoyance you start to generate fresh ideas. So what are you waiting for be a nerd.