In today’s dynamic and complex business environment, staying relevant has never been this challenging. This challenge has been exacerbated by rapid and continual changes in technology and variegated customer choices. Companies seeking to achieve or sustain competitive advantage must not just innovate, but innovate right; create product/service that is user-focused (must meet the basic and excitement needs of customers).
Whether we like it or not, competition will continue to intensify and the only way to stay afloat is to continue to provide solutions through the lens of the user or from user perspective. Design Thinking in recent times, although not new, has been garnering traction amongst business leaders owing to its use in enhancing customer-centric innovation. Big and successful multinational companies like General Electric (GE), Procter & Gamble (P&G), Sony and Philips have been reported to use design thinking as a problem-solving apparatus across their respective companies.
What then is Design Thinking? How can it be used in unlocking hidden business opportunities? According to Jeanne Liedtka, Design Thinking is best understood as a skill set, such as the ability to handle uncertainty, tolerate ambiguity, and maintain the big picture through systems thinking and systems design. In a nutshell, Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to solving real customer problems by making use of data from user research and feedback to design and build solutions that are both demand-driven and valuable. It therefore stands as a bridge between product success or failure in the marketplace.
It begins by first studying to understand customers, and identifying challenges the customers are facing; brainstorming new and possible solutions (product/services or business model); drawing key assumptions; and rapidly prototyping to validate assumptions before launch.
Design Thinking gives business practitioners the opportunity to clearly define, redefine and reframe the problem to so as to get a deeper and holistic understanding of customers pain points and even beyond, that is, problems companies don’t even know exist and customers don’t know they have. This facilitates deeper connection between the company and its customers, optimises the company chances of success, reduces unnecessary cost and wastage and enhances stakeholder value.
In conclusion, Design Thinking is a process that can prove invaluable to a company in addressing several innovation challenges like new product/service and new/alternative business model if incorporated into a company’s innovation strategy.