Definition of Design Thinking in Business

Introduction

Placing the Phenomenon of Design Thinking in a Context

Innovation has always been an integral part of successful businesses, and design thinking (DT) can be viewed as its essential catalyst (Pendse 10). The phenomenon allows improving the problem-solving and decision-making processes in the context of an organization by offering a framework that helps focus on the search of the available solutions with the primary objective, as well as the crucial opportunities and threats, in mind (Luchs et al. 2). Therefore, DT must be considered an indispensable part of any business.

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Background: Design Thinking as a Concept

DT has been originally known as a set of approaches that designers use to approach specific problems creatively and search for non-trivial solutions (Luchs et al. 2). However, as the concept evolved and started entering other domains, it became very popular as a tool for improving business processes (Pendse 10). Particularly, the opportunity to build the company’s philosophy around the idea of innovation served as the most attractive feature of the concept (Luchs et al. 18).

Nowadays, DT is used in business quite often, yet the frameworks according to which the process is carried out are strikingly different (Luchs et al. 20). In either case, though, the use of DT allows opening new opportunities for organizations and identifying the most efficient solutions within a relatively short amount of time. Therefore, the application of DT in a business context should be encouraged as the means of identifying innovative solutions and implementing them successfully. Furthermore, DT has stopped being solely the means of solving production-related problems and has evolved to the corporate philosophy that allows meeting the needs of all stakeholders involved (Pendse 10).

Line of Argument: Design Thinking as the Ultimate Tool for Meeting People’s Needs

Because of its focus on innovative solutions and the idea to incorporate the latest available technological advances to meet the needs of the target population as efficiently as possible, DT should be viewed as a crucial part of the decision-making framework in any company. Inviting the participants to reconsider the current approach toward the routine processes, from getting the company’s priorities straight to resources management, DT can become the pathway to success in the target market. Therefore, it is crucial to explore the experiences of other organizations that have successfully deployed the framework. Thus, the foundation for developing a unique approach that will help propel any organization to the top of the target market can be designed.

Design Thinking in Business

Current Design Thinking Models: Paving the Way to Success

Seeing that DT by its design implies a creative approach toward managing the customers’ needs and the company’s processes, there is a variety of ways to implement the concept. Numerous models have been suggested and tested, some of them becoming quite successful, while others were failing miserably. At present, several models stand out of the range of other tools, thus, giving an opportunity to improve the corporate operations and the communication-related processes.

Environment-Observer Interaction

The identified model suggests that the principles of aesthetic thinking should be implemented when using the DT philosophy as the foundation for planning the company’s actions. The environment-observer interaction (EOI) model embraces the concepts of form and function, placing an especially strong emphasis on the former. As a result, the solutions that contribute to not only utility but also the development of the aesthetical side of the project can be outlined.

Furthermore, the framework can be viewed as especially useful in the context of the urban environment. Given the recent propensity toward urbanization in the global economy, the use of the EOI tool as the means of rationalizing the company’s choices and promoting innovation should be viewed as an important step toward quality improvement. Embracing the needs of the urban population, the specifics of the infrastructure, and the significance of technology in communication improvements, the model is a crucial part of a business strategy (Nia and Atun 2-6).

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Stanford University Design Thinking Model

The Stanford University Design Thinking Model, in turn, suggests that a set of specific steps should be taken to achieve a certain goal. The framework implies that, during the completion of the first step, the efforts of a team should be geared toward understanding the nature of the problem and the context in which it occurs.

Afterward, careful observations must be carried out and followed by a detailed analysis of the phenomena. The process of ideation comes next, suggesting that the participants should focus on the consideration of the available options. Prototyping is the next stage, which requires that the chosen strategy should be tailored to the unique needs of the key stakeholders. The further testing stage finalizes the process of model implementation (). The model, while having its problems, should be credited for a detailed and well thought-out list of stages that allow scheduling the crucial steps so that a project could be completed successfully.

IDEO Models

Being one of the world renowned design organizations, IDEO has come up with a unique set of tools that allow making decisions in a business environment. The models developed by the company are supposed to help improve the workplace processes by integrating them into a single continuous one and introducing the elements of creativity into it.

IDEO’s 3 I Model

Also known as the inspiration-Ideation-implementation Model, the framework suggests that three crucial steps should be made when addressing a particular problem. Specifically, an opportunity must be identified, the further process of elaborating on the implementation by a team of experts (with the emphasis on the teamwork), and the following observation of the way in which the strategy is put into practice (see Fig. 1). The brainstorming process is what makes the model stand out since it provides the foundation for producing brilliant ideas (Tschimmel 6).

IDEO’s 3 I Model.
Figure 1. IDEO’s 3 I Model

IDEO’s HCD Model

Another model that prompts the production of original solutions and helps make sensible decisions, the HCD (Hearing, Creating, and Delivering) Model allows for significant improvements in the environment of an NGO (Tschimmel 7). The framework is also known as the Human-Centered Design, which implies that it is focused extensively on the needs and demands of customers. In other words, the emphasis on customer satisfaction is huge.

Model of the Hasso-Plattner Institute

Being more detailed than the previous approaches, the Hasso-Plattner strategy helps view DT as a continuous process, in which all actions are linked in a single chain. Thus, the outcomes of the previous one predetermine the success of the next task. The tool helps view the workplace processes as a part of a cohesive whole (Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test) (Tschimmel 9).

4D (Double Diamond Model) of the British Council

The 4D Model, also often referred to as the Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver framework, provides an opportunity for the visual mapping of the essential workplace processes. The Discover phase implies that the participants should use different techniques, including brainstorming, to generate ideas that could, later on, be used as the bulk for the improvement of the service and product quality. The model encourages to deploy innovative management strategies and, therefore, should be viewed as an important addition to the DT inventory (Tschimmel 9-10).

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Service Design Thinking (SDT) Model

Last but definitely not least, the Service Design Thinking (SDT) Model needs to be brought up. The very concept of the framework is rooted deeply in the idea of meeting the customers’ needs fully. Therefore, the Tool suggests that the following stages should be completed when designing a new product or service: Exploration, Reflection, Creation, Implementation. The Reflection stage is especially significant since it helps determine the strengths and weaknesses of the solution and, thus, make rather accurate forecasts (Tschimmel 10).

Application of Design Thinking: Cases and Their Analysis

A range of companies have already tried implementing the essential principles of DT as a part of their business practices. Scrutinizing the ways in which these organizations carried out the change will shed light on the general principles of DT application. Furthermore, a comprehensive strategy can be designed based on the results of the analysis.

Design Thinking at Apple: Fuelling Innovation as the Basis for Success

Apple’s case is, perhaps, the best-known example of DT implemented right. Though it might be hard to believe, when Apple was started, the prospects of the organization were not quite clear. With the lack of coherent vision and the corporate philosophy that could help the organization gain immediate customer loyalty and become instantly recognizable, Apple was suffering a significant crisis.

Jobs reinvented the company’s vision, mission, and philosophy by introducing the concept of DT into its framework. In fact, one of the most common myths about design was subverted as the DT principles were incorporated into the company. Particularly, the common idea of design being the way of making something look good was dismissed by Jobs. Instead, he claimed design to be the concept that allows finding the most efficient and successful solution to a particular problem (Tomke and Fineberg 5).

The case in point can be viewed as one of the most iconic uses of IDEO’s 3 I Model in the context of business. Not only did Jobs manage to raise the organization from the ashes in which it was lying at the time, but he also redefined the idea of DT, placing a heavy emphasis on innovation and quality improvement. As a result, the premises for focusing on building customer-focused approach were created (Tomke and Fineberg 3-7).

Design Thinking at the Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC)

Another scenario that showcases the importance of implementing the principles of DT in the business setting, the case described by Sutton and Hoyt shows that DT, deserves to be mentioned. The strategy described in it is a tool that allows one to push the company out of its comfort zone and encourage the members of the organization to explore the opportunities that they would not have considered otherwise. Particularly, the case indicates that WT can be used as the tool for strategizing and planning the further expansion into the unknown territory. For instance, the case study shows that DT helps draw a process map that outlines the challenges and opportunities to be faced in the target environment. As a result, a coherent forecast about the possible outcomes can be drawn (Sutton and Hoyt).

In the case under analysis, the 4D Model was used to place the emphasis on communication with customers and service improvement. As a result, the organization managed to set its priorities straight and choose the option that allowed for the most efficient use of the available resources, thus, avoiding taking significant expenses. Therefore, DT proved to be essential for building a conversation with the target audience and promoting customer loyalty.

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Design Thinking at Braun/Procter&Gamble: Oral-B Smart Brush as a Breakthrough

Apart from promoting successful communication with the target population and encouraging the company to seek innovative approaches for problem-solving, DT should also be viewed as the concept that can contribute to the development of a brand product. The case under analysis is, in fact, where the actual concept of design shines through and where the focus on the visual appeal and the functionality of the product are emphasized.

Therefore, apart from helping a company to draft the available strategies for developing relationships with the target audience, as well as incorporating the latest technological advances into the production process at the same time maintaining financial sustainability, the framework also provides the basis for focusing on the product design. Helping marry the principles of form and function, DT contributes to the creation of the brand that will remain memorable and well enjoyed among the customers. Indeed, Oral-B Smart Brush quickly became one of the most easily recognizable products in the market (Leon).

Conclusion

DT has become part and parcel of contemporary business. Numerous models have been created, and countless cases show that DT works flawlessly as a tool for improving workplace processes. DT plays a huge role in the improvement of customer relations and the update of the company’s quality standards. Therefore, it should be considered an essential addition to the problem-solving kit of any organization operating in the context of the global economy.

Works Cited

Leon, Adam. “3 Great Examples of Design Thinking in Action.Medium Corporation, 2013. Web.

Luchs, Michael G., et al. Design Thinking: New Product Development Essentials from the PDMA. John Wiley & Sons, 2015.

Nia, Hourakhsh Ahmad, and Resmiye Alpar Atun. “Aesthetic Design Thinking Model for Urban Environments: A Survey Based on a Review of the Literature.” Urban Design International, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-18.

Pendse, Pradeep Hari. Business Analysis: Solving Business Problems by Visualizing Effective Processes and IT Solutions. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd., 2015.

Sutton, Robert I., and David Hoyt. “Better Service, Faster: A Design Thinking Case Study.Harvard Business Review, 2016. Web.

Tomke, Stefan, and Barbara Fineberg. Design Thinking and Innovation at Apple. Harvard, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2012.

Tschimmel, Kate. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. Barcelona, 2012.

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