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Nurturing Design Thinking Skills to Deliver Business Value

Technological advancement has given rise to advanced thinking processes and one such process is Design Thinking. It began as a process used for creating new technology and products. This non-linear, iterative process is now widely used in private and public sectors for business and personal projects. The ‘human-centric’ solution provider collects an evidence trail of how consumers engage with a product or service and then how someone else or an organization might do it the traditional way.

Consumer experience plays a pivotal role in Design Thinking. It tracks people’s products or services used as a method of improving the consumer experience. The World Economic Forum stated that problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity as the top three skills that employees will need to incorporate into the workplace. In addition, the rapid digitization of business and the emergence of AI and ML technology shows the primary need for design thinking, in a futuristic way. Design Thinking is an amalgamation of innovation, especially in the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) environment.

Institutions and organizations across the globe are focusing on improving the design thinking division of the company and hiring employees who are not only technologically driven but also creatively capable. The key vertical of Design Thinking includes identifying primary partners for business, conducting activities that are value-driven, identifying physical and non-physical resources, building a strong customer-client relationship, and looking out for channels to interact with customers.  Moreover, Design Thinking is not just limited to the IT Industry but to anyone with the mind-set to resolve human demands. Chefs, social scientists, biologists, and teachers among others who can find solutions to a problem are considered design thinkers. The method of design thinking faces three main challenges–people desirability, business viability, and technical feasibility. Some of the solutions identified as part of Design Thinking include as below:

Start with Divergence

Market research is useful in bringing about incremental improvements. Humans are not aware of their needs and design thinking helps in finding the solution to these issues. Usually, designers are considered to be the right-brain thinkers, which is a misconception, since the skill can be nurtured through effective learning programs that can enable individuals to build relevant skills in design thinking. These skills can range from ideation to an applied understanding of the human-centred framework, to research and applying empathy, to building design prototypes.


Build a Culture of Optimism: 

To nurture the power of design thinking, individuals, teams, and whole organizations must cultivate optimism. Bold ideas thrive when shared with an openness to receive constructive criticism, and actionable feedback. This fosters a culture of collaboration, where practitioners from different disciplines like product, service, behaviour, and process design can co-create winning solutions.


Make Everyone a Design Thinker: 

Everyone is a thinker for sure, else there question of a need or demand does not arise. Experiences get elevated only after they are personalized to human needs and this stems from the ability to provide something special to customers at the right time. Employees are encouraged to seize opportunities when they see them and are given tools to create an unscripted experience, they evolve as “Design Thinkers.”


Equip yourself for the New Social Contract: 

Customers are no longer just “end users,” they are two-way process participants.  Citing an experiment conducted by Starbucks, the largest coffee house chain, the F&B was undergoing a drop in sales and the coffee house chain wanted to understand the customer’s expectations, and interviewed hundreds of customers. The outcome showed that customers wanted an atmosphere that provided a sense of belonging and relaxation. Working on these insights, they positioned round tables strategically to make solo coffee drinkers more comfortable and less conscious.


Nurture the Skills that Complement Design Thinking: 

Every organization has a design thinker, who can be identified and optimised. This is best seen in people who are not afraid to try fast and fail fast. Often, design thinking practitioners combine project management tools with design tools to come up with rapid prototypes using human-centred design principles.


Making good products is no longer the only USP, it is to bring out a journey where the product experience is positive and memorable and customer-centric experience. The future of design thinking is solving problems beyond the present day, and being able to foresight problems and obtain solutions.

(The author Subramanyam Reddy, Founder and CEO, KnowledgeHut and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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