What is design thinking and why should you care?

With design thinking, you can bring desirability and feasibility into your innovations

I’ve always believed that people are creative by nature and not nurture.

But that’s until I stumbled upon about the concept of design thinking (aka design-led thinking). And honestly, initially I thought, “Well, this won’t work for me, I’m not a designer.”

Turns out this concept can be applied to any field, even for one’s personal growth and productivity.

But first, what is design thinking?

Tim Brown, who is one of the oldest proponents of design thinking, defines the concept as, “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.”

Simply put, your customer has to be at the center of your problem solving process.

You must be deeply interested in the person for whom you are designing a product or service.

He or she must be the apple of your eye.

You must ask basic questions about the user and his or her needs, and then go about questioning existing models — which is really the cradle of creativity. (Read this article for more insights into what design thinking is).

So, why should you care about implementing design thinking in your life or at your workplace?

It’s quite simple.

Design thinking has way too many benefits for you to ignore. Here are some of the top ones:

Boost your creativity:

Can’t come up with more than one solution to a problem?

Here’s an idea. According to Stefanos Zenios of Stanford GSB, “Great ideas are not new ideas. They are usually a combination of existing ideas.”

Design thinking promotes a collective approach to problem solving where people with different experiences can merge their ideas together. This alters your thinking process and you automatically start using more of your right brain. Yes, the part that makes you more artistic.

So, the next time you need to design a poster, don’t discount what your coder friend might have to say!

Up your empathy quotient:

Have you ever been branded apathetic? Do your teammates hint that you could be more understanding?

If you’re nodding away to any of these, you may want to think about design thinking.

Why? Because design thinking trains you to put aside your opinions and judgments about others and focus on becoming more accommodating. You can try the What-How-Why method to become a more empathetic, caring person at work.

Become an ambidextrous thinker:

We have been told for a long time now that individuals are essentially of two types — those who have a more active left brain (and are thus more analytical) and those with a more active right brain (the creative types).

Good news! With design thinking, you can activate both sides of your brain.

So now, you can manage both the budget and the creative theme for your next office party.

Solve problems like a pro:

Have you been seeking others’ help to solve your problems more often than you should? Wonder why your solutions aren’t always the best?

It could be because you’re thinking more about the solution than the problem itself.

Design thinking encourages taking up a problem from the bottom and working your way up to the solution.

The process is simple:

The five steps to problem-solving. Image credits: Supahands
  • Empathize with your customers
  • Define the problem
  • Ideate with your team
  • Design a working prototype
  • Test and iterate until you have a desirable and feasible solution

Follow the process and you’ll be solving others’ problems for them in no time at all!.

Manage risks like Warren Buffett:

The world’s top investor didn’t build an empire by playing safe. Buffett says, “Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.”

With design thinking, your knowledge base is strong. It follows the principle that no solution is the optimum solution, every solution has to be iterated.

So don’t worry about the changes on the road ahead, now is a good time to push your new product idea out.

-Authored by Nikita Pandit, who is busy thinking about how to think better. Is also a content marketer at Flock.


How has your experience with design thinking been? Do let me know by leaving a comment below :)

Need more inspiration to boost your team’s creativity? Click here to read four proven ways to increase team creativity.

Consider these for your next read: