By Dennis de Rond, Founder / CEO of Skyne | 3-5 minute read
Design thinking. Can we still call it a buzzword? Probably not, many leading companies like Apple, Airbnb and Google successfully adopted the design thinking approach a while ago. Leading universities like Stanford and MIT teach master classes about this concept, including the skillset required and how to adopt this approach successfully. What makes the design thinking approach so successful? The answer is plain and simple; design thinking allows for discovering out-of-the box solutions that in essence, lead to business growth in innovative ways. When done in the right way, design thinking can work for any organization, design related or not. This article will help you to explore how this approach can be beneficial to your company and provide you with tools you can implement right away. But first things first…
What is design thinking?
“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” says Tim Brown, CEO of innovation & design firm IDEO and author of the bestseller “Change by Design”.
The definition of design thinking Tim Brown uses is a more recent one, adding a human and empathetic dimension to problem solving rather than a purely scientific one. This is important, because it is exactly the reason why design thinking has become so successful in the past decade. The approach is no longer exclusively used to develop new products, but has been successfully adopted by non-design related companies too for a wide array of business challenges.
How design thinking works
The process, or even mindset, is non-linear and hands-on, combining working and thinking at the same time. The process is typically divided into 5 elements.
The iterative nature of design thinking makes that the 5 elements are not necessarily in a sequential order (and therefore not numbered here). Going through the process, you will discover new things that might require you to go back to one of the previous elements. It is important to remember that keeping an open mind throughout the entire process is the key to its success; design thinking should be seen as an ongoing experimentation. This way of approaching a business challenge saved Airbnb from going nearly bankrupt in 2009.
A more detailed description of the 5 elements can be found here.
The main benefits of design thinking
Design thinking not only helps design groundbreaking solutions, the approach also fosters a great culture of innovation, problem solving and creativity. What else can you expect from this approach? It is proven to save costs and provide significantly higher ROI’s by getting successful solutions to the market faster. IBM reports the impact of their design thinking approach leads to an ROI of 300%, delivers solutions 2 x faster to market, and books a 75 % increase in team efficiency. Furthermore, the approach is extremely successful to tackle business challenges that are not well defined or even unknown and can, and should, be applied company-wide.
Ready to seize your brand’s opportunities?
At this point you might be convinced on the potential of design thinking, but not sure yet how this could work in your organization. To change internal processes and convince people to work in a different way is challenging. Also, before investing much time and money in getting the right education you might want to try the approach first. We recommend taking 1 or 2 of your business challenges to discover if the design thinking approach works for your organization. Here are a few, hands-on, ideas on how to get started:
- Involve others and make it a collaborative effort. The more diverse the team is, the better the outcomes.
- Create a dedicated project space, a place where people feel comfortable enough to brainstorm too.
- Commitment, this might seem obvious but it is such a crucial part. Commitment in time, budget and people throughout the entire project duration is critical to its success.
If you need more guidance on your way to explore the design thinking approach, we are here for you.
After all, the design thinking approach might lead to your next best business growth driver. Are you ready?