2006 - Started leading change: I accidentally became a change consultant. I was working as a graphic designer when I was approach to take on a project at an international bank creating visual diagrams of their work processes. The company had just acquired a smaller firm and they were working to merge the two businesses. My job was to visit each department and visually document what they did. When I was nearing the end of this work, they asked if I could create some training materials, this led to the need for creating gap assessments, which led to process design work. Before I knew it I was leading change projects. As a designer, I was trained to create solutions and deliver them to market. What I didn't realize or fully appreciate at the time is, the skills I developed as a designer were critical to driving change.
2010 - It all started with a question: Why do we struggle with change? After six years as a change management practitioner, I found myself baffled with this question. Assignment after assignment, I saw clients struggle to make the changes they acknowledged were needed and even committed to making. I wanted to understand this struggle better so I made the decision to pursue graduate level studies.
2012 - Where the research led: Two years later, what I discovered was, that our resistance to change is an effort to maintain stability. There is comfort in stability, routine, and knowing what to expect next. Think of this as a defense mechanism or a primal need deeply embedded within us. So, while intellectually we see that change is needed, we also fear it, and do what we can to prevent it. While this was satisfying to know, it didn't really help me serve my clients better. I wanted to study this in more depth so I continued on to doctoral studies.
2014 - But...we are also creative: As a PhD student, my question was, what would make us less resistant to change? At the same time, in my professional work (yes, I worked full time while completing my graduate studies), I transitioned into a role that was more focused on innovation. In this new role I observed something interesting, people were excited about change because it involved creating new things. This observation led me to realize that just as humans are resistant to change, we are also creative. We figured out how to keep warm, we discovered fire, the wheel, and in more recent times the internet, the smartphone, space travel. This is when it occurred to me that perhaps what I've been looking for has been staring me in the face all along. It was just a hunch at the time but, I couldn't help but think there was a connection between designers and creating change. So, as a budding researcher I went to the research lierature and discovered...design thinking.
2016 - The Aha-Moment: As I dove into the design thinking literature (and there was a lot of it, 164-items to be exact) my view of resistance to change began to change. The problem isn't that we struggle with innovation and change. In fact, this is more of a symptom. The problem is that we are not taught how to and given an opportunity to develop the capabilities needed for innovation and change. We are almost taught the opposite. The exception to this seems to be designers, think engineers, architects, product designers - professions that center on creating things. The concept of design thinking is based on the work of these designers, how they work, their skills, and mindset. My aha-moment, if we can identify the capabilities of design thinkers then we can work to develop these capabilities not just in designers but other professions as well.
2017 - Completing the Research: After countless hours of reading, writing, editing, lively debates with my dissertation committee, collecting and analyzing data, I finally had some answers.
Present Day: I help individuals and teams develop their Design Thinker capabilities so that they can generate impactful results. Whether the goal is to grow market share, excel in your career, take your business to the next level, I teach clients how to put the practice of design thinking to work to reach their full potential.
As a DESIGN THINKER Coach, Dani teaches individuals and teams how to take a design thinking approach to achieve their full potential and generate the results they desire. Dani is the creator of Chesson's DESIGN THINKER PROFILE, as assessment instruments that measures design thinking capabilities.
Formerly, the Vice President of Small Business Strategy at Bank of America, Dani has experience in leading transformational change, new product development, service innovation, and driving operational excellence.
Dani holds a Ph.D from Antioch University in Leadership and Organizational Change.