Using Design Thinking for Business Innovation

June 24, 2016 Design, Uncategorised

Designing is often thought of as simply making things ‘look good’, though in recent times it is becoming more apparent that being able to think like a designer can be highly beneficial to businesses. Through this mindset, more innovative and intuitive solutions can be reached in any business or profession, helping them to compete in today’s market.

What is Design Thinking
‘Design’ is regularly used as a noun, being the look and feel of a final product, though it should be thought of as a verb, the process of developing a new value-based insight. Rather than taking a traditional, problem-focused approach, a design mindset focuses more on solutions and the needs of the user. Through combining critical and creative thinking, the exploration of new alternatives is encouraged, situations can be improved, and ideas and information can be more organised.

How Does Design Thinking Work

“Design thinking offers a structured framework for understanding and pursuing innovation in ways that contribute to organic growth and add real value to your customers” – Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

An organisation run primarily on feeling and intuition can be risky, but so can one run solely on the rational and analytical. Integrating these two methods provides us with design thinking, a third way. This method allows for the ability to gain a deeper understanding of a customer’s needs through linking creativity and innovation. As put by IDEO’s president and CEO, Tim Brown, design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to construct ideas that are both emotionally meaningful and functional, to recognise patterns, and express ourselves through means beyond words and symbols. Implementing this method to any business positively aids effective strategy development and organisational change. Thinking like a designer doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be a designer. ‘Design thinkers’ are simply more empathetic, better listeners, and better at observing customers in a real context, giving the business a competitive advantage.

The Process
There are many different approaches to the design thinking process, though traditionally it follows the five-step framework found below. Applying this process to business innovation and strategy has proven to create advances in efficiency, create value, and innovation in the marketplace. Applying the design process and design principles to strategy and innovation, the success rate of business innovation improves creating advances in innovation and efficiency, providing the business with a competitive edge.

Design Process


“Design-thinking firms stand apart in their willingness to engage in the task of continuously redesigning their business…to create advances in both innovation and efficiency—the combination that produces the most powerful competitive edge.” —Roger Martin, author of the Design of Business

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