Why ‘Design Thinking’ Is Critical For Your Business

Design Thinking has been around for almost 40 years. It originated as a business concept in the early 90’s at Stanford. Design Thinking has picked up steam over the past 5 years, and is now the latest craze for many Fortune 500 companies.


While the average small business owner may not be familiar with Design Thinking, the philosophy that it promotes is a mindset that anyone can benefit from. Without diving too deep into Design Thinking, (which would require a lot more time and text), a brief summary of it as a business concept is creatively understanding a problem and searching for answers through trial and error. In essence, Design Thinking promotes the “right” way to get to a solution. And of course, since it is the right way, that means it is not the easiest way. Design Thinking requires discipline, creativity, focus, and above all, a truly open mind.


Many times in the business world, we skip steps or try to force a pre-conceived idea or assumption onto a problem. We think we know what the problem is, and the pain points of our target audience. But in actuality, we usually don’t. This is because it takes time, effort, and the ability to be a good listener to actually get inside the minds of the consumer and discover their true intentions, fears, and problem areas.


Design Thinking formalizes a process, forcing us to take the time to interview and really understand the people we are working to serve. There are 5 phases of the Design Thinking process:
5 Phases of Design Thinking

The 5 phases of Design Thinking

No matter what type of business you have, whether you are B2B or B2C, service-oriented or product-oriented, at the end of the day you serve a customer. Design Thinking requires us to dig into the minds of our customers. Conduct empathy interviews with them, asking open-ending, probing questions that move past the superficial and unearth sub-conscious motivations and pain points. The benefit of this empathy is that we are able to assign a human story to our business or product, no matter what it is. The key to empathy is to listen and ask the right questions. This is a tried and true rule that will make any business better, yet far too often we skip it and assume we know the answers already.


The second phase of Design Thinking is DEFINE. This phase relates to taking what we’ve learned from our empathy interviews and putting it all together, understanding what it means and identifying the patterns behind it.


Most companies skip these first two steps. They jump right to the IDEATE phase, brainstorming their ideas to the problem they have identified already without doing their homework to make sure they are solving the correct issue. This is trying to force a square peg into a round hole.


There’s a reason Design Thinking has become so en vogue lately. It’s because at the end of the day, in order to be successful your business must be able to connect to people in an emotional way that rings true to their priorities. There’s no short cuts to getting to that place. And when you do it the right way, you set yourself up for long term success.


Interested in learning more about the popular concept of Design Thinking for your business? Contact us today at hello@protocolred.com today.