“The main tenet of design thinking is empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same thing – building empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help” – David Kelley, IDEO Founder

When I read this, it set my mind thinking about my own beliefs regarding Design Thinking. This concept forms an important tenet in not only engineering, product development but also in the strategic management, services sector as well. I find it particularly interesting because it seems like a perfect amalgamation of Art and Science – the art of finding creative solutions for technical problems. This stream of thought gives proper guidelines, a strategy so to say, to meet clients’ never ending requirements and expectations. Design thinking became a part of management skills much later in time. The concept sees its origins way back in 1969 in a book called The Sciences of the Artificial by Herbert Simon. Since then, companies such as Apple have constantly made use of Design Thinking where they need to resort to think like designers and create products, services or processes to not only solve issues but also glue with the customer. I remember when I was reading more about this, I came across its very interesting application. Japanese bicycle components manufacturer Shimano once collaborated with IDEO, the leading innovation and design firm, to understand why almost 90% of American adults are averse to riding a bicycle. The research zeroed in on reasons such as cost of fancy bikes, retail experiences, risk of cycling on heavy traffic roads, and so on, kept people away from riding a bicycle on a regular basis. Hence, they created “Coasting”, a brand concept which emphasised on a new category of biking which included PR campaigns and in-store retailing strategies to portray cycling as a safe option, and then going further ahead and creating a reference design so that designers at other companies can work on the prototype for manufacturing more Coasting bicycles. I thought that was a brilliant effort to tackle a market problem which Shimano faced. Design thinking gives us this ability to gently manoeuvre organisational problems through smart techniques, such as, for instance, making use of digital marketing.

As an organisational leader, customer delight always tops my focus. Without a doubt, we need to give our prestigious clients an active listening and I make sure the team works together to collectively ensure this. The process of Design Thinking does help us, at times. As I earlier quoted, I feel that applying this habit allows me to take into consideration the ideas as well as concerns and attend to those in a disciplined manner. So when my company needs to deliver products or services we try and create those which compliment innovation and add quality to our client’s business. I sincerely feel that this approach has given a vital boost to our product development strategy as well as creating a marketing differentiator. Answering a lot of “what if”, “how to”, “what can” has helped me in finalising the strategies to simplify tasks and chalk out the plan. We then make use of innovative techniques and tools for implementing strategies.

Design thinking particularly works well for B2B and B2C clients. There are several tools available which companies can opt for to see which thought process works the best for them. In my opinion, however, it would be good to weigh the options and then eventually plan a design on that basis which suits your own particular needs and interests.

At Inteliment, we brainstorm as a team and come up with possible workable ideas. Of course, having some insights on the way previous issues of the client were handled comes handy. But basically, there can also be simple ways of designing. For instance, Chris Cartter who was earlier the CEO of the start-up QuitNet.com used an uncomplicated design thinking technique of writing a journal to understand his consumer needs. This technique can be personalised, and to be honest, that’s the beauty of it. That is also how I keep on experimenting with design thinking as I truly believe that it will go on to become a highly sought-after mechanism in the increasingly complex business scenarios.

What’s your experience with design thinking? Have you tried it yet? Let’s discuss !