Design-oriented companies such as Apple, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, and SAP have outperformed the S&P 500 by remarkable numbers. This article will highlight the differences between design and design thinking and, if implemented correctly and strategically, how design thinking can affect business outcomes and bring a real competitive advantage.
It is a methodology that provides a detailed understanding of the user, the challenges they face, and their preferences. Based on this information, the product development team can develop strategies and create solutions that are only possible with an in-depth understanding of the target consumer base. In other words, design thinking promotes a solution-based approach to problem-solving, rather than being product-oriented, while remaining unaware of consumer needs.
Design is changing the way leading companies create value. The focus on innovation has shifted from engineering to design management, from product-oriented to customer-oriented, and from marketing to user-experience oriented. For many CEOs, design thinking is the cornerstone of successful strategy development and organizational change.
Due to the remarkable success rate of design companies, the design has gone beyond creating objects. Organizations now want to learn to think like designers and apply design principles to the workplace itself. Design thinking is the basis of successful strategy development and organizational change.
Design Thinking has its roots in product development and engineering departments. Still, now its processes are adopted by R&D, development, marketing, and many other departments in organizations around the world.
So how does design thinking differ from the term “design”? Let’s understand the difference between them.
Difference between Design and Design Thinking
If someone tries to understand the designer’s mindset, they will notice that the design process is non-linear. They create and change their design as they progress until they form a product that aligns with their creative vision. It is a product-oriented approach. However, there is no such luxury in design thinking.
Steve Jobs said: “Most people make the mistake of thinking the design is how it looks. People think it’s that veneer – that designers are given this box and say, ‘Make it look good!’ This is not what we consider design. It’s not just about how it looks and feels. Design is how it works. “
In addition to imagination and intuition, design thinking also depends on systematic and logical reasoning to explore the different paths in how customers can benefit from a product. Every ounce of analysis and imagination goes into creating a solution-oriented and customer-oriented product.
Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, a design company that popularized the term design thinking, says: “Design thinking is a discipline that uses the methods and sensitivity of a designer. It aligns people’s requirements with what is feasible technically and what a real strategy can do – business strategy turned into customer value and market opportunities”.
Design thinking also focuses on creating a product that meets the current consumer demands and acts as an innovative solution to improve the future. How is it possible? By completing all the reasonable requirements of the target audience. After all, the ultimate goal of design thinking is to improve the consumer’s quality of life.
Due to its emphasis on a customer-centric approach, design thinking plays a significant role in developing an innovation strategy. Let’s look at the process involved.
What drives Design Thinking?
The most significant driving force is the accelerated pace of business and society changes caused by technological advances. As businesses become more software-driven and the rate of change increases, so does the complexity.
Whether it is Instagram, the photo-sharing app, or WhatsApp cross-platform messaging app, the most significant tech ideas have always had the most straightforward premise. This is because the developers of these apps understood the psychology of their consumers. They know that people want their interactions with applications and other technology types to be simple, intuitive, and fun. The impressions of application users should be deeply harmonized with the users, reflecting its human nature.
Most companies are optimized to execute and solve a specific problem. Creativity is finding an issue that is worth solving. The lack of a scalable creative framework encourages incremental innovation rather than breakthrough. As companies strive for breakthrough innovation, they need to find ways to introduce and scale creativity in their organizations.
Design thinking provides a framework for leaders to solve complex human problems and make the best possible decisions about:
- Redefining values
- Re-inventing business models
- Changing markets and behaviors
- Changing the organizational culture
- Complex challenges in the society such as health, food, education, water, and climate change
- Problems affecting multiple stakeholders and multiple systems
Due to the above rules, apps like Instagram and Whatsapp are by-products of Disruptive Innovation. Unlike incremental innovations that focus on enhancing an existing product’s characteristics, Disruptive Innovation aims to disrupt current marketing practices by introducing a new product with contemporary features.
From discovering an application idea to researching its market and competitors, followed by ideation, iteration, prototyping, testing, and finally application delivery – design thinking provides the operational framework for a creative and innovative design approach. It solves complex human challenges and promotes wise decision making, which are the ideal ingredients for an effective strategy.
Design thinking also minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers or users with a series of prototypes for learning, testing, and improving concepts. Design thinkers rely on customer insights obtained from real-world experiments, not just historical data or market research.
By embracing design thinking, companies can lean towards designing applications or products that can solve complex problems while being innovative. After all, a satisfied consumer bodes well for business.