What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking in business is a mindset for solving problems creatively. It allows you to design solutions for end users and also emphasizes implementation. While design thinking is an ideology based on novelty and usefulness, it is anchored around a human-centered approach. It is also a linear method that seeks to solve complex problems. This approach shifts the focus from the business engineering outlook. It means that there is no point in innovating something if people won’t use it.

Design thinking in business results in solutions that are:

  • Technically feasible so that purposeful products and processes can be developed.
  • Economically viable for implementation.
  • Desirability to meet a human need.

Design Thinking Vs Traditional Problem-Solving Approach


Design thinking uses insights to engage consumers with a product or service. The goal is to achieve an enriching consumer experience, not just beauty. With this in mind, it outlines steps to develop concrete solutions to have a single problem statement. It is surely a way to evolve your thought process and figure out what the customer needs.

Traditional problem-solving in contrast to design thinking is a non-linear process. In this, you identify the problems and then use trial and error to experiment to know what works and what doesn’t. Often it is considered time-consuming, expensive, and ineffective.

Purpose of Design Thinking

Creativity is the key to finding solutions to any problem. The essence of design thinking is user-specific and useful in any complex system. It is about recognizing the problem and finding the solution. Clearly, it is knowing your end users and the impact of the solution on them. The purpose is to provide all businesses with a uniform innovation process.

  • Solving a human need: Perceiving human behavior and patterns. Also, uncovering the pain points of consumers and providing solutions.
  • Tackling difficult problems: Careful observation to identify ambiguous problems and

 surface solutions.

  •  Imagining impossible things with a possibility: An iterative approach tackles   

 problems. Leads to innovative solutions that do not yet exist.

  •  Running a structured organization: First, doing research with an intention of getting  

 outcomes. Then creating prototypes and testing them.

Stages of Design Thinking in Business

Design thinking is a human-centric, solution-based approach to solving problems. With reverse and repeat, the phases progress from concrete to abstract thinking. Abstract thinking increases the likelihood of an idea being unique. But still, it is critical to anchor abstract ideas into concrete thinking for a valid solution. The following four steps describe effective innovation and design thinking:

Stages of Design Thinking in Business
Stages of Design Thinking

Define: In this stage, you observe consumers without bias. To gain a deeper understanding as a designer, you lean towards user-centric elements and emphasize problematic areas. You can now narrow down the focus of the design thinking process. Eventually, identify the problem and come up with the most appropriate solution.

Ideate: The next step is to brainstorm potential solutions. The goal is to let your creativity run wild and overcome cognitive fixedness. Hence, devising new and innovative ideas that solves the identified problems. At the end of this process, you generate a bunch of different ideas and move forward with a few of them.

Develop: The third phase turns ideas into actual solutions. It involves many rounds of prototyping, testing, and experimenting to answer critical questions. This step isn’t about perfection. In fact, based on the results you should prepare yourself to go back to the ideation or defining stages.

Implement: In the fourth and final phase, implement the solution you have developed. Until you find a successful solution, you’ll likely have to refer back to a prior phase. And you iterate and repeat until you reach a final solution. Similarly, learning from experience is part of the innovation and design thinking process. As design thinking is often linear, it is recommended to have such an approach.

Scope of Design Thinking in Industries

The proliferation of design thinking in industries aims to break complex issues. Analyze and then solve them into tangible ones. It is a collaborative venture, mastered through practice with peers.  There is a scarcity of experienced professionals in this industry. That is the reason design thinking jobs pay well.

The occupations that demand high design thinking skills:

  • Marketing managers
  • Industrial engineers
  • Software developers
  • Operations managers
  • Technical Analysts
  • Design engineers
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Lead Innovation
  • Strategist, Brand Experience Design
  • Design Researcher
  • Head Product Design

A few of the expected tasks across different roles include:

  • Networking with clients and clarifying their challenges. 
  • Investigating to get access to information. 
  • Applying hands-on methods to find ideas and solutions. 
  • Structuring business plans, service design, etc.
  • Implementing products in the market after testing them.
  • Re-inventing existing products to create scalable solutions. 

All departments and projects can deploy design thinking methods. Managers should first define the customers. Then apply the four stages of design thinking to tackle the identified problems. Design-thinking professionals are in demand in the job market. Henry Harvin institute understands this need, and thus imparts valuable skills through its courses. With the increasing scope in this industry, you can also plan to add this skill set for your growth.

Henry Harvin Design Thinking Course

It is a global education company offering a variety of upskilling programs. Business houses and individuals can equip themselves with these courses. Design Thinking is the most demanding career option.  The institute provides a globally acclaimed certification course. “Certified Design Thinking practitioner (CDTP)” to enhance your skills.  The curriculum illustrates the customer-focused design framework. This helps to develop products and services that are not only desirable but viable too. As a business strategist, the knowledge will help brands focus on user experience. The trainers have intensive subject matter expertise, making the learners industry-ready.

After the completion of the course, you will be able to identify the root cause of a problem. Consequently, find solutions, and develop business ideas by applying tools and techniques. All businesses or organizations want to develop state-of-the-art products. Bring dynamic new iterations of their own products.  Design thinking will help create a mindset to generate the most imaginative solutions.  Henry Harvin’s Design Thinking course stands second in India, ranking-wise. The institute achieved media recognition for its quality and unique training programs.


  • Develops the ability to empathize with users. Clarify problems, and provide solutions to prototype and test.
  • Better job opportunities to grow your career in design thinking.
  • Analyze and control business problems. Use design thinking tools such as empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
  • Understand new and growing technologies. Adopt a structured approach for the growth of the organization.
  • Develop abilities like problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, leadership, and communication.
  • Upgrade skills that increase sales of your products or services. Thereby, improving the market position of your business.

Scientific Side of Design Thinking:

The design thinking process has both a scientific and an artistic side. Generally, it helps us determine the parameters of a problem with new insights. Further, the techniques and strategies generate a holistic and empathic understanding of people’s problems. It digs a bit deeper into the problem and challenges our restrictive patterns of thinking. Indeed, it helps you know the more ambiguous or peripheral factors to create innovative solutions. Hence infuses alternative products and services for both business and society. It is not only for innovators but for everybody. For example, employees, freelancers, and leaders can also gain a more complete understanding of user needs.

Out-of-the-box thinking, also a part of the design thinking process attempts to develop new ways of thinking. Encouraged at every level of business, still can be a real challenge. Although we access knowledge that surrounds us, but still develop patterns of thinking of repetitive nature. Conventional problem-solving practices often overlook certain capacities in contrast to what design thinking taps. It relies not only on our intuitive ability to recognize patterns. But construct ideas that have emotional connections and functionality.

Business Value of Design Thinking

Fixing an error after development is 100 times more expensive than before development. Significantly, a positive change is expected throughout the organization. The return on investment in the design thinking process is still a challenge to measure. In the beginning, the costs involved in the implementation may be enormous. But later, it saves a large amount and directs consideration to the specific solutions of need. Therefore start-ups that adopt the design thinking method outperform their competitors.

Design thinking helps move from the standard model to user-centered design processes. It is a smart way to stimulate any organization to be faster. More organized, and more creative, in turn, drives a greater return on investment.

In case- studies of this method, brands, and companies who accept it achieve great success. And also yield a higher return on investment over time. Therefore, it is proven return on investment is integral to design thinking in business.

Examples of Design Thinking

Design thinking is a powerful tool to approach difficult business problems. You can apply it to both big and small problems. Real-world examples are an effective way to leverage design thinking. However, it is beneficial to learn how big brands and companies approach problems. Also delivers what users and customers expect from them.

While these examples prove the success that design thinking can yield. You can therefore learn and practice it before implementing them into your business model.  

1. Netflix

Prime example of design thinking in business

Netflix, an industry giant is a prime example of design thinking . Not only it came up with the idea to stream movies to customers’ homes through the internet. But also eliminated the inconvenience of delivering DVDs to customers’ homes on a subscription model. Accordingly, they kept using design thinking to come up with new ideas. They also responded to the need for original content that wasn’t airing on other networks. It took design thinking a step further after adding short trailers to its interface. Hence improving their user experience.

2. Uber

Uber- Best example og design thinking in busines

With the help of design thinking, Uber introduced cashless payments. Eventually, reducing fraudulent transactions. It also provided the power to give ratings to both drivers and users. Therefore increasing their incentives for good behavior. Above all, it eliminated problems that had been plaguing customers in the past.

3. Uber Eats

Uber eat- Design thinking for food delivery at door step

Food delivery apps have changed the way we eat. Each restaurant has its own specialty and Uber Eats connects people to these places in cities.  Design thinking helped shadow delivery drivers from restaurant to customer. Thus, ensuring a smooth delivery process. Although, transforming the customer experience of food delivery added to its success, constant evolution was the key.

4. Oral B

Oral B- innovative solutionto electric toothbrush

Oral B upgraded its electric toothbrush using design thinking. Not only did the company find effective solutions. But also prototyped before implementation. While users expected the toothbrush to charge conveniently during travel. At the same time, ordering replacement heads should be easy to handle. Also, the toothbrushes should connect to phones and send notifications on time as alerts. The focus was on what users wanted rather than what the company wanted to sell.

5. Apple

Apple- Exceptional design thinking products

Apple has some exceptional design-thinking products like iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and MacBook. The initial product had an operating system that could accommodate future requirements. Accordingly, the products could be developed keeping customers’ needs at the edge. An intuitive user experience has always been an integral part of Apple’s products. For instance, facial expressions, the music experience, the interface, and more gives impeccable user experience.  Apple puts a premium on design thinking in all its products. Focuses on what consumer needs and develops products based on those needs. Create prototypes, and then test them to see that the product is not limited by technology.

6. GE Healthcare

GE healthcare use design thinking

Diagnostic imaging revolutionized the healthcare industry. Still, there was an unidentified problem in the pediatric ward. GE Healthcare saw how little patients cry during long procedures. Considering this, GE Healthcare used design thinking to redesign MRI machines for children. For example, the “Pirate Adventure” yielded unexpected success. Clearly, transformed MRI machines from dark black holes to pirate ships. It had the scenery of beaches, sandcastles, and the ocean to convert cries into smiles.

7. IBM

IBM Cloud platform an innovation

The company has gone through many stages in its development. IBM used design thinking to create a cloud platform for application development. The main aim was to help developers establish cloud applications much faster. Understanding the prospective customers allowed IBM to create an easy-to-use functional platform. It helped reduce the cost and time spent by developers setting up infrastructure.

Takeaways from the Design Thinking process:

  1. Consider the wider picture: Each company should think about the customer’s perspective. Also, recognize when to use empathy.
  2. Find alternative solutions to the problem: Recognize the problem businesses face. Think of alternative solutions to practice both empathy and ideation.
  3. Analyze competitors’ strategies: Investigate each company’s competitors to learn about their similar problems. Find similar solutions, compete, and follow a four-step design thinking process. 

Challenges of Design Thinking in Business:

A successful innovation delivers the best possible solutions with low risk and costs. Businesses should develop useful strategies to achieve outcomes. When applying the design thinking process, organizations encounter new obstacles now and then.

  • Superior solutions:

 Predictable ways often lead to conservative solutions. While exploring new ideas, teams get hung up. Therefore, action-oriented managers become impatient to tackle the problem. It is better to incorporate a customer-driven approach. But sometimes it is difficult for customers to know they want something that doesn’t yet exist.

  • Low risks and high cost-effectiveness:

Uncertainty is part of the design thinking process. Too many ideas dilute focus and resources. Innovators must let go of unsuccessful ideas. Otherwise, it often kills creativity to avoid higher risks.

  • Employee engagement:

Innovation won’t succeed unless all employees of a company work towards a common goal. The sure shot way to get the employees’ support is to involve them in generating ideas. Sometimes, employees’ perspectives differ from organizational goals. Thus, expectations result in an incoherent environment and chaos.

  • Structure of Design

Experienced designers often criticize design thinking as being too structured and linear. Fear of making mistakes drives most employees. So, they focus more on preventing errors than on grabbing opportunities. They opt for indecision behavior rather than taking action when faced with the risk. Fear of failure takes over them. Design thinking tools deliver assured security, helping innovators achieve desired results.

  • Immersion

 It is advisable to review feedback and surveys to identify the problem. The better the data, the better the conclusion. Sometimes innovators believe in pre-existing theories about customer preferences. They have their own biases and don’t recognize the needs of people.

Importance of Design Thinking in Business

In recent decades, the world has seen rapid developments in technology. Certainly, this has brought more interconnectivity. Design thinking provides a means to cope with a customer-centric approach. It allows you to think outside the box to illustrate a problem and solve it on a deeper level. Design thinking proves to improve the world around us. Thus, generating ground-breaking solutions in a less disruptive, yet creative way.

While design thinking has been around for a long now, still many corporations are not prepared to adopt it. Nevertheless, a growing number of brands forced to put in place innovative strategies. Business executives, product engineers, marketers, and all should rework to beat the competition.

Limitations of Design Thinking in

A qualified designer should have two important competencies. Firstly, divergent and convergent thinking towards a given problem. Secondly, an experience to match the requirements to beat the constraints and achieve the desired outcome. Additionally to know how to use information in design validation. If design thinking creates the expectation of no need for this experience. Or no need to allot time for collecting information. Then, there is likely to be a misalignment in expectations around the outcome.


To summarize, design thinking enhances the user experience. There have been countless mobile phones launched before Apple’s iPhone. Also, there were many taxi providers before Uber. For instance, companies like IBM, Oral B, Netflix, and GE Healthcare changed the consumer experience. This compelled other businesses with similar goals to change. So you need to put users’ needs at the center of your efforts. Thereupon, you can expect delightful and efficient experiences from the product performance.
There is one thing common to all successful businesses. All these entrepreneurs aim to deliver a relentless user experience. You can see this deep-rooted in their products too.

Designers should create products to resonate with their customers’ needs. Hence, every company should adopt innovation as a part of their work culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can you do design thinking without initial user research?

Ans. No, as it is the first step of the design thinking process.

Q2. Is design thinking the only way to solve problems and be innovative?

Ans. No, but this method happens to be more effective.

Q3. How do I get started with design thinking?

Ans. Take a Design Thinking course from Henry Harvin. Or hire someone who holds expertise in design thinking.

Q4. What makes Design Thinking in Business different from other areas?

Ans. In many instances, it is easy to place design thinking into different businesses. But sometimes certain products and brands have different goals and frameworks.

Q5. Can we implement parts of design thinking and succeed?

Ans. Yes, we can use individual tools and install the design thinking process in parts. But for a better result, since its beginning, it should be implemented at every stage.

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