Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking, Harvard Business Review, Reprint R0806E, 2008.
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Design thinking is the ability of designers to match their methods and creativity with technologically viable ideas that can be converted into great value for the customer where these ideas can be turned into a great business opportunity through the adoption of the right strategy.
An early example of design thinking is the case of Thomas Edison, the founder of General Electric Company, who was able to create the electric light bulb and then build an entire industry based on it. He did this by developing systems of power generation and transmission to ensure that customers could find the use of the light bulb. Design thinking involves understanding the wants and needs of people through careful observation and then designing products and services that seek to satisfy these needs. It also involves careful observation of peoples’ preferences on how products are packaged, marketed, and sold and thereby exploiting this by creating a business operation that seeks to improve weak areas.
Historically, designers were charged with the responsibility of transforming the way customers viewed already existing business ideas by making the ideas and products more attractive to them. In today’s business environment, however, designers are expected to come up with new ideas that better meet the needs and wants of the customer. A good example of design thinking is the case of Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare firm that had to seek the help of experts to change the way the shift changes were carried out to maximize the nurses’ interaction with patients. The new design was centered on the nurses’ ability to continuously update patient information resulting in a simple process that led to immense time-saving.
Design thinking process
The process of design thinking has been described as involving three activities named “Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation”. This involves a process where problems and opportunities lead to a need to improve the current situation and an individual recognizes the need to search for solutions or ways of making things better. This finally leads to trying out different ideas and solutions to come up with a unique solution.
For design thinking to work, various important aspects must be considered. These are: involving design thinkers at the beginning of the process, factoring in the needs and preferences of individuals, trying various ideas repeatedly, seeking the help of experts, involving both short term and long term ideas, having an adequate budget, always sourcing for the best talent from everywhere and always insisting that the design thinkers go through the complete process of design thinking to allow them to come up with concrete ideas that can be turned into profitable businesses.