How To Leverage Design Thinking for Business Growth

To survive in the global market, you must adapt to a new way of doing things: fast, easy, and differently to satisfy and retain customers. An effective way of satisfying your customers in this ever-changing landscape is through design thinking.

The ability to innovate through complicated problem solving has been regarded as the most important skill for professionals of the twenty-first century—especially in today’s complex, dynamic, and rapidly changing world.

Design thinking is a method for innovation that generates and develops workable concepts that satisfy the needs of the customer using in-depth user insight, problem framing, a variety of ideation techniques, iterative prototyping, and critiquing.

Design Thinking is an approach to problem-solving and opportunity discovery that can be used by any organisation or profession to generate amazing results. In contrast to traditional critical thinking, which aims to dissect ideas, we might conceive it as a creative process of developing ideas.


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Drawn from references from Harvard Business Review and Forbes, design thinking, which was frequently disregarded by business leaders in earlier decades, has significantly impacted the business world.

Businesses are gradually realising the value of using design thinking as a differentiator to adapt to shifting consumer trends and behaviours. Global brands like Apple, Microsoft, Disney, and IBM have repeatedly shown the intrinsic value of “design thinking” as a differentiator that affects the bottom line and promotes corporate expansion.

They have come to understand that blueprint innovation occurs at the nexus of consumer desire, commercial viability, and technical feasibility. All three are used in the approach to product layout known as “design thinking,” which has been progressively developing since the 1950s.

Design thinking can be used for growth, profit, and productivity in five phases.

  1. Empathise (observe, infiltrate, collaborate, and interact)
  2. Define (identify the main cause and clearly state the problem)
  3. Ideate (concentrate on idea development using diverging and converging techniques)
  4. Prototype (produce low-resolution artefacts iteratively)
  5. Test (consider the findings and improve prototypes)
  • Empathise

Technological innovations and disruptive business models challenge conventional methods of operation in a complicated world and environments that are changing quickly. For instance, in the accounting sector, clients prefer more individualised, tailored insights as well as honesty, which large organisations often find difficult to provide. Accountants must adopt a human-centred approach to their profession to establish confidence with clients. They must go beyond their domain knowledge and network.

Design thinkers use the “Empathise” mode as a working strategy to comprehend people in the context of their professional engagements. Successful businesses invest in learning how and why they do what they do. These companies also make an effort to take into account the physical and emotional demands, worldviews, and values of their customers. Empathy is the act of consciously trying to put oneself in another person’s shoes to attempt to understand what they are feeling. This is the first stage to making a profit and increasing productivity.

  • Define

The majority of firms in Africa have elected to operate using traditional business strategies, which has resulted in around 30 to 40 per cent of those losing customers and thus going out of business. As they develop, the majority of them fail to address the urgent need for new leadership that will be able to plan and implement the necessary transition for businesses to thrive. Young—and occasionally highly educated—people are having a difficult time finding employment, while on the other side, rising organisations are having trouble hiring talents at all levels. Because the world and the demand for clients have moved past that stage, all these difficulties can be summed up as problems with conventional business strategies, which need only formal education to thrive.

Instead of concentrating energy and resources primarily on curriculum or administrative requirements, defining the fundamental issue can significantly impact an organisation’s ability to meet future customer demand and contribute to society. Clarity and focus are the main goals of the “Define” mode of design thinking.

  • Ideate

Designers are prepared to come up with ideas at the third stage of the design thinking process. In the Empathise stage, you develop an understanding of your users and their needs. Then, in the Define stage, you examine your observations to produce a user-centric problem statement.

Where the rubber meets the road, creativity is unleashed on intelligence during this stage. A multi-stakeholder team must first develop the creative or layout “pathways” that could provide solutions to the needs outlined in the previous two stages before granularity of execution alternatives can be considered.

This creative but untidy phase can be fuelled by brainstorming, mind mapping, landscape mapping, and Post-it Notes, among other techniques. The secret is to foster an atmosphere where diverse and challenging possibilities are welcomed. This is the development stage where the needed supply of the customer’s demand is generated and met through ideation.

  • Prototype

The fourth step focuses entirely on experimental work: turning concepts into actual “artefacts”. These artefacts could be a novel structural innovation, a retail environment, a package layout, a system etc. Rapid iteration and even prototyping are essential steps in giving life to a project. Don’t be afraid to illustrate the solution using novel, consumer-friendly methods.

Through a succession of evaluations and criticisms from the larger team, proposed solutions may be enhanced, altered, or discarded throughout this stage. This quick iterative method has numerous advantages. This stage is where the idea birthed for the industry, firm or business is put to display, checkmated, and auctioned to know if it meets the demands of the customers.

  • Test

After your iterative prototyping and creative creation, look for ways to test quickly and naturally with customers. Even while eye tracking and quantitative “benchmarks” are frequently used in design testing, a qualitative sharing session with customers can delve much deeper into the “why” of the feedback. Use a “friends and family” strategy if money is short or clients are reluctant to abandon their conventional corporate techniques. The customers you speak with must have a stake in what you are trying to solve.

Conclusively, as the population grows, the needs and demand of people changes and only a flexible business can sustain this. That is why the introduction of design thinking as a tool for growth, profit, and productivity has given business owners, entrepreneurs, and firms the ability to meet these demands of humans within a very short period. Design thinking moves the emphasis from an engineering solution that is business-centric to one that is customer-centric.

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