design thinking

Design thinking is a process where we redefine problems, understand the challenges faced by the user, and come up with innovative solutions. It can also be referred to as ‘thinking out of the box’, as it is a solution-based approach to any problem statement that can be used to solve complex problems.

In design thinking, we first break down the problems into smaller aspects, and then start thinking from the base level and come up with different solutions. Later, we compare all the possible solutions and select the most suitable one, depending upon the situation, which adds up to resolving the problems in their entirety. The process of design thinking involves gaining an understanding of the user for whom the client is generating the services or products.

In the words of IDEO’s Founder, David Kelley, “The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is the same thing — building empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help.” The words are enough to describe how many people who understand design thinking will turn into great leaders and be able to create brilliant products.

With the help of design thinking, we can evaluate and develop empathy with a particular user. In addition to that, it aids in improving the process of questioning, which includes questioning the hurdles, questioning the indications, and questioning the hypotheses.

The Value of Design had been published last year by McKinsey, where it is said, “the best design performers increase their revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry counterparts.”

Phases of Design Thinking

The process can be very useful while dealing with ill-defined problems. We can break down the entire problem and come up with lots of ideas through brainstorming sessions. While performing design thinking, one should break it down into five phases:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

How design thinking is related to business?

As we have discussed earlier, design thinking is nothing but a simple process used to solve complex problems more effectively and innovatively. One always has to start with an idea no matter what business he/she is in to.

For instance, one cannot just start selling products when it comes to e-business. It requires a lot of planning and strategy. One needs to overcome a lot of hurdles before starting to sell the products.

Here, design thinking works like a charm. It allows the business owner or the strategy team to sit down and brainstorm on the problems that they are, or can face while selling their products. After they are familiar with the issues, they have to consider various solutions that can be used to overcome the issues. Then, they will select the most effective solution.

It can be concluded that Design Thinking is very much necessary for running any kind of business. This is especially true in case the problems are related to client retention, market strategy, process efficiency, or customer loyalty.

Need for Innovation in Businesses

A majority of the businesses that get effective growth have added innovation in their business. Some of them are popular for their innovative products and others for their innovative services. Even if your business already has strong brand loyalty, also innovation is very important for your firm.

Having said that, if you examine the firms that stand out from the crowd are the clear leaders of their respective industries. What they all have in common is the fact that all of them embrace innovation. Some examples of such innovative leaders include brands, like Amazon and Uber. They have changed the core process of running their business in the industry and have disrupted the status quo.

In addition to that, companies like Apple and Microsoft have a stronghold in the market for decades. However, they have continued to add innovation and reinvention to their products and services. That’s one of the reasons why they are still one of the most popular market leaders.

It can be concluded that brands cannot survive in the market if they do not embrace change and innovation. These are some of the most important factors when it comes to growing the business.

Also Read: Improve your sales with Design Thinking

Value Addition via Design Thinking

Most successful companies always have a hunger for innovative ideas. This helps them compete in the marketplace. Design thinking is one approach that has helped the corporate world to achieve immense success.

Every great design comes with a “wow” factor that makes it more presentable and appealing to the buyers. That’s the sole reason why brands like Deloitte, McKinsey, Facebook, IBM, and Capital One have already purchased design firms. In addition to that, one can only attain great design via design thinking as it allows firms to discover the desirable solutions for the consumers.

Companies like Pepsi, GE, and SAP have already implemented design thinking to re-invent the process of innovation. Nowadays, when it comes to innovation, the focus has shifted to customers from the product. The focus is also more on design than engineering and user-experience than on marketing.

A few countries have discovered the fact that design is one of the most important aspects of growth in Asia.

Example of Design Thinking in action

As we have already discussed the fundamentals of design thinking, let’s get into the examples of design thinking in action.


When it comes to large corporations, the name of IBM is surely taken. This software giant is planning to flood its firms with the most effective versions of design thinking. It has gained inspiration from IDEO’s popular methodology to expand its manifesto for design thinking.

The heart of the process includes three vital stages –

  • Discover (observing users in the real world to keep the focus on them)
  • Give back (brainstorming to share the knowledge and come up with innovative solutions)
  • Execute (transforming the innovative solutions to reality)


When it comes to design thinking, one of the most legit examples is P&G. The brand has an observation that if they target women who are over fifty, they will have to overlook the vital segment of the skincare industry, i.e., the younger women in their thirties.

After that, P&G evaluated pricing models and prototypes, finally leading to the offering of a new range of products that are designed to satisfy the needs of the consumer.

Design Thinking: A catalyst for the new digital world

With continuous innovation, companies can achieve constant success. Several brands like Netflix and Amazon, boast on the title of innovators. They consider thinking outside the box to come up with completely new segments.

At this level, innovation is not just pure inspiration and requires focus, investment, and most importantly, methodology. Risk-taking factors will also be calculated under it. Design thinking helps in making the path towards innovation, and it has become a catalyst for the new digital world.

The digital world is the most popular disruptive force that generates seismic shocks. This results in many unsettling businesses. Design thinking is surely an assured path to innovation. It can assist any brand in staying relevant to its consumers in this digitally connected world.

If you are looking to upskill, join the Stanford GSB Executive Education’s Design Thinking course in collaboration with Great Learning.



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