Successful business practices in today’s world revolve around the consumer, and trends show that customers seek meaningful experiences with the companies they frequent. Even on social media, consumers show more interest in businesses with a personality than those that interact with followers like a robot. Our previous blog on the 5 Things Most Innovative Companies Have in Common reveals that focusing on the personal preferences of your employees and customers creates a healthier business within and without. Design thinking is a business approach that focuses on understanding the human needs behind a product or service in order to improve the overall experience. This idea values empathy and a strong customer focus as a crucial means of success for your organization. In this article, we will explore how design thinking can transform any company.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a mindset that helps you develop an understanding of the customer’s goals from multiple perspectives, such as emotional, psychological, and behavioral. Successful design thinking involves an iterative process with four main components: observation, ideation, prototyping, and testing. It is important to remember that customer needs are at the core of this process. As always, technology can help improve communication within your business organization and well-designed tools can provide a variety of benefits in the design thinking process. You can learn more about the stages of the design thinking process here.

Benefits for Your Company

By focusing on the customer’s journey from their point-of-view, design thinking can help your business organization create the best overall consumer experience that will result in long-term customer loyalty and good results. The design thinking approach is human-centered and therefore consistent improvement and innovation is a very important goal in the process. As you might imagine, successful innovation means creating new products and services in efficient ways that your customer wants to buy and will enjoy using. Having a design thinking mindset is essential for every business because if you follow this approach your company will be always focused on creating something that is centered around your customers and their needs. The design thinking methodology advocates that your consumers should be the primary reason for any innovation and that they should be asked to give valuable feedback through the product or service development process. Such an approach will ensure that the customers will develop meaningful connections with your business even before they have had a chance to experience the final product or service.

Design Thinking and Profitability

Design thinking can also be used to help drive operational efficiency. When utilizing the design thinking approach you can use your customer’s input to redesign operational processes and optimize cost by focusing on product features that the customers want and removing features that your customers do not use.

Design Thinking for Digital Transformation Projects

The design thinking approach can also be useful to find solutions in situations when you need to take your business organization in uncharted territories, when the nature of the problem is unconventional or when the roles within your business organization need to be reevaluated in order to keep up with the latest technology. Therefore the design thinking approach is well suited for projects that invoke major changes in your business organization, such as digital transformation projects that help your company move from the old ways of doing business to more digitalized business models. When everyone in your organization accepts the digital transformation initiative and approaches the changes with empathy, adapting becomes a lot easier and smoother. It is easy to blame your technology, equipment, or processes as the reason for failure in digital transformation projects, while the people who are managing these processes or technology are often to blame. The human-centered approach advocated by the design thinking methodology can help your employees stay engaged and therefore make any digital transformation project a success.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you are thinking about integrating design thinking into your company culture there are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Do not focus on one component – it can be easy to focus on one step of the design thinking process and downplay the rest. If you are excelling at one component, do not let the others be forgotten either. This is a holistic approach.
  • Do not stick to the rules – design thinking means being flexible. It is impossible for this approach to truly work for your business if you are still rigid and linear in how it is applied. Instead, it should be a guideline and a way of thought.
  • Do not use as a marketing plan – although design thinking can transform your marketing approach and guide a more successful marketing plan, it should not be the plan. Once again, design thinking is most successful when used across the organization and not just in one department.
  • Do not isolate – the building blocks of design thinking are not meant to be handled one at a time. All of the steps should be working together at the same time in order to generate productive innovation. So, it is not wise to focus exclusively on one step before moving on to the next.

The most important tip for successfully integrating design thinking into your business is adopting it as a company-wide mindset and not just as another process. It should influence the way you approach every aspect of your business. Find out more about helpful ways to integrate design thinking into your business with Planbox’s Design Thinking Platform.