Design Thinking Empowers Organizations to Solve Virtually Any Problem

May 24, 2023 | Michael Mayton

Design thinking — a powerful tool often associated with product design — has gained popularity in recent years.

At Bounteous, we believe that the potential applications of design thinking are much broader than is commonly recognized. It is a methodology that doesn’t merely address product design, but enables continuous invention and improvement. It can transform businesses and solve problems in creative and effective ways. In fact, our operating methodology of co-innovation heavily incorporates design thinking concepts.

Our process at Bounteous is centered around the principles of design thinking: Insights, Ideation, Experience, Testing, Learning, and Insights Experience. We understand that design thinking is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a flexible and adaptable methodology that can be applied to a wide range of challenges. 

Design thinking requires full adoption and continuous commitment to change. When organizations commit, they can solve problems and drive transformative results. Businesses and organizations of all sizes can use design thinking framework to drive growth and innovation. Designers, product owners, marketers, and business leaders can champion design thinking inside their organizations to deliver results.

Application is Universal

Design thinking’s impact extends well beyond product design, and many global corporations are proving it.

IBM has significantly invested in design thinking for talent acquisition. Understanding the candidates' perspectives has allowed them to create more empathetic and effective recruitment experiences, thereby attracting and retaining top-quality talent.

Disney, a brand synonymous with magical customer experiences, employs design thinking in their customer service. They meticulously analyze every customer touchpoint to eliminate friction and craft seamless, delightful experiences for their patrons.

At Intuit, design thinking has revolutionized internal workflows. The software giant encourages its employees to empathize with each other's roles to find innovative ways to improve efficiency and productivity, leading to a marked increase in job satisfaction.

And, at Bounteous, design thinking has been integral to our relationships with co-innovation clients such as Wawa, Mars, and Domino’s, among others. 

Organizations Must Identify and Empower Talent that Embraces Design Thinking

Design thinking is customer centric. To succeed at it, companies must involve customers in the design process early on through surveys, interviews, and focus groups. This helps business leaders gain a deeper understanding of their customers' needs and preferences, which can subsequently inform the design of products and services.

Design thinking is collaborative. Collaboration between individuals from various disciplines including designers, engineers, and business analysts is also a critical aspect of design thinking. Creating cross-functional teams that can work together to develop innovative solutions helps businesses leverage the diverse perspectives and expertise of their team members to create more effective designs.

Design thinking is iterative. The process involves prototyping, testing, and refining designs based on feedback. Companies should use this concept to create a culture of experimentation and calculated risk taking while also providing talent with the resources and support they need to test and refine their designs. 

Design thinking is action-oriented. It emphasizes the importance of quickly testing ideas in the real world. Companies should encourage talent to take action and experiment with new ideas, even if they are not fully developed. This helps identify potential problems early on and leaves room to make necessary adjustments to their designs. When it comes to design thinking, “fail fast” isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s the end goal.

Design Thinking is a Methodology for Continuous Innovation

Design thinking is not a one-off approach that can be used for a specific project or problem. Rather, it is a continuous methodology that requires long-term commitment to building a company culture that values and promotes creativity, innovation, and experimentation. 

To do this, companies must provide training and resources for employees to learn about design thinking and how to apply it in their work. This can include workshops, seminars, and online courses that teach the principles of design thinking and provide hands-on experience in applying it to real-world problems.

In addition, companies should establish processes to support the adoption of design thinking. This can include creating cross-functional teams that include designers, engineers, and business professionals working alongside each other on projects. It can also involve creating a dedicated space or lab for experimentation and prototyping, as well as establishing metrics to measure the success of design thinking initiatives.

Overall, companies should use design thinking as a way to drive innovation and create a culture of experimentation and continuous improvement. By adopting design thinking as a constant within their organization, companies can stay ahead of the competition and deliver better products and services to their customers.

Common (and Surmountable) Obstacles to Embracing Design Thinking 

It can be challenging for large organizations to adopt design thinking due to obstacles such as resistance to change, limited resources, and lack of management alignment. These processes, however, can be overcome with planning and process implementation. 

Training, education, and clearly communicating the benefits of design thinking can make employees feel more invested in project outcomes and open to embracing change. To address the challenge of limited resources, companies should prioritize resources to support design thinking initiatives and identify areas where they can reallocate resources to support design thinking efforts. This could involve investing in design thinking tools and software, hiring design thinking experts, or creating cross-functional teams to support design thinking projects.

It's critical that leadership be aligned in their support of design thinking. Companies should communicate the benefits of design thinking to management and involve them in the process. This could involve creating a design thinking steering committee, establishing design thinking metrics, and incorporating design thinking into the company's strategic planning process.

By establishing processes which support design thinking, addressing obstacles such as resistance to change and limited resources, and ensuring management alignment, companies can create a culture of innovation and improve their problem-solving capabilities.
Design Thinking Delivers Tangible Business Benefits

Design thinking is about business and customer relationship transformation. It is a problem-solving approach that emphasizes empathy, creativity, and experimentation to deliver effective solutions—and it can be applied generously to any challenge you may be facing. 

Companies can adopt design thinking by following these four concepts:

Greater Creativity and Innovation

Design thinking encourages companies to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems. Companies can use this concept to foster a culture of innovation by encouraging employees to share their ideas and experiment with new approaches.

Increased Adaptability to Market Changes

Design thinking helps companies stay agile and adapt to changes in the market. Companies can use this concept to test and iterate their products and services, ensuring that they remain relevant and competitive.

Fuller Understanding of Your Users and Their Needs

Design thinking helps companies gain a deeper understanding of their customers' needs and preferences. Companies can use this concept to conduct user research and gather insights that can inform their product development and marketing strategies.

Higher Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Design thinking helps companies create products and services that meet the needs of their customers, leading to higher levels of satisfaction and loyalty. Companies can use this concept to prioritize customer-centric design and ensure that their products and services are user-friendly and intuitive.

Design thinking drives innovation, improves customer satisfaction, and helps businesses stay competitive in a rapidly changing market. By embracing this approach, companies can transform their businesses and build stronger relationships with customers.