Design Thinking in Organizations

‘In a competition between someone who knows the most and someone who is willing to learn the most, the edge usually goes to the curious and empathic professional, not the one who is simply protecting what’s already known.’ This is a quote that strongly ushers in the concept of design thinking and how it can be innovatively applied in current business models. Design thinking has been consistently praised as that methodology that is used by entrepreneurs to solve problems and find desirable solutions for their clients. This methodology is deemed most effective from the top-down hierarchy, as it signals to managerial heads and cofounders of enterprises to take an empathetic approach towards a particular pain that the potential customers face.

In retrospect, human-centered approaches have been ignored for years in business operations. It was evident that traditional project-oriented ways were used to assess business performance. Granted, that era was deeply defined by neoclassical economic theories that only measured the feasibility and financial sustainability of businesses. Business performance was characterized by graphs and curves that demonstrated practicability of operations. As economies observed a gradual change in development, information revolution and a different generation now taking space in the workplace, there occurred transitions in the working structure as well. More creative practices were integrated in boardroom meetings, to allow room for effectiveness. Whereas economic theories bundled up individuals into theories, the creative power of looking at different individual perspectives and deriving value-addition insights from that was long overlooked. Hence the gradual adoption of design thinking.

The principles, tools and processes in Design Thinking revolve around usage of innovative potential. It has found its way through many successful projects in diverse, supportive environments, through acknowledging a pain. For instance, the telecommunication industry. The evolution from the use of postal services through to telephones all demonstrated application of design thinking in the development of the gadgets and the systems used in communication. Basically, everything that we spend time, money and effort in was at some point a design.

Application of Design Thinking in Business Modules:

Design thinking conceivably encourages a more open-minded outlook in problem identification and then considers different ‘prototypes’ that aim to solve these problems. Bearing this in mind, it is a no brainer that the Design Thinking approach cuts across different avenues for problem solving as it circles around the thinker’s creative cognizance.

For instance, Design Thinking has been used by SMEs and proprietors to come up with innovative strategies for economic recovery. The 2020 Covid-19 fallback played a great hand in business closures and disruption in the labor market. Market players who embraced design thinking might have witnessed avenues for opportunities in innovation. Progressively, the concept has fostered collaborations between the public and private sectors to enhance trade from product/ service development.

Provision of legal services is considered important in many societies. As communities evolved, the demand for protection and clarity through legislation grew however, accessing these services for many is expensive and time consuming hence the adoption of ad hoc and risky dispute resolution mechanisms. Innovation within the legal fraternity is considered static and this has prevented the industry from addressing pains experienced by consumers of their services. Design thinking can open opportunities and improve customer experience in the industry. By closely aligning their operations and services to customers evolving needs and wants, the industry will have created new revenue streams in addition to setting the pace for other sectors.

The eradication of pain generates new pain hence new opportunities for business. The insatiable nature of human needs triggers a constant desire for new solutions which keep the wheels of production moving. To reap from this cycle, production units (both goods and services) have to invest in research and development to keep in touch with changing trends and develop solutions for tomorrow’s pains. This ideology has supported business longevity and enabled global brands and multinationals survive the test of time. Two- time Nobel laureate, Linus Pauling once said ‘ the best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas’. Ideas that are generated from a pain perspective yield greater results than those generated from assumptions. Therefore, utilizing design thinking in brainstorming sessions sustains objectivity. It’s important to remember that problems trigger pain, pain generates value and value ultimately creates wealth.

2 thoughts on “Design Thinking in Organizations”

  1. 👏👏. This is such a great read.
    Especially with this generation where AI are coming in the market. You need to be Design thinker to also remain relevant in an organization..

    Thank Kamuu.
    This is a good one for a new year.

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