Design Thinking in Business

What is it and how can it help your business?

Innovation is key to the success and growth of any business. Design thinking is based on designer’s workflows for mapping out the stages of a design. However, it can be used as a standardised innovation process to help develop creative solutions to problems in any business.

Design thinking became popular thanks to Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, an international design firm. Tim Brown defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and requirements for business success.”

Thinking like a designer can transform the way businesses develop products, services, processes and strategy.

The four phases of design thinking are Clarify, Ideate, Develop and Implement.

  • Clarify

This phase is about narrowing down the focus of the design thinking process. It involves identifying the problem statement to come up with the best outcome.

  • Ideate

Once the problem has been clarified, the next step is to come up with as many ideas as possible to address the problem you are working on. There is no right or wrong idea – anything goes. This is simply a brainstorming phase.

  • Develop

Now it is time to develop a prototype. You take the best idea or a consolidated group of ideas and turn it into a sample product or service that can explain and demonstrate the idea to end users.

  • Implement

Finally, you test, reflect on the results, re-iterate and test again until you find a successful solution. You can then agree with your stakeholders, how best to implement your solution and roll it out as a final product or service.

The main value of design thinking is that it offers a defined process for innovation. While trial and error is a good way to test and experiment what works and what doesn’t, it’s often time-consuming, expensive, and ultimately ineffective. On the other hand, following the concrete steps of design thinking is an efficient way to develop new, innovative solutions that can help your business to gain an edge over the competition.