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What it takes to implement Design Thinking?

Updated: Jan 9

By Xiaoyu (Simon) Zhai and Robert Webb


Design thinking has been a buzzword. It is very likely you have read Harvard Business Review or participated in a workshop that pointed out design-led companies such as Apple, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and SAP have outperformed the S&P 500 by an extraordinary 211%. Undoubtedly, you might feel confident that by implementing design thinking properly, there will be a positive impact on the business outcomes. However, it does not mean all organizations are making the most out of it. Here are some ideas to think about before jumping into its implementation.


Design Thinking needs management

To fully understand customers’ needs and transform needs into products and services, design thinking relies on multidisciplinary teams to break down silos and get different areas of the business working together on projects in order to generate innovative ideas. In reality, you might find it is difficult to organize a multidisciplinary team to push the generated ideas further since the team members processes different views that are tied up with their professional domains. You need to manage the working process to select ideas and push it further with the support of team.

Design Thinking requires high-level agility in organization.

To fully understand customers’ needs and transform needs into products and services, design thinking relies on multidisciplinary teams to break down silos and get different areas of the business working together on projects in order to generate innovative ideas. In reality, you might find it is difficult to organize a multidisciplinary team to push the generated ideas further since the team members possessing different views that are tied up with their professional domains. You need to manage the working process to select ideas and push it further with the support of team.


Design Thinking requires high-level agility in organization.


Design thinking is a working process that requires revision based on tests and customers’ needs. It is not a sequential, linear process that no phase begins until the prior phase is complete, and each phase's completion is terminal. Therefore, you need to know if your organizational supports a culture that allows quickly response to changes in the marketplace or environment. If not, the value of design thinking will not be fully utilized.


Design thinking does not make you creative


When you face uncertainty, it is helpful to use a structured thinking process to guide the innovation journey. Design thinking, fortunately, offers a proven and clearly defined work process for structuring complex issues and pursuing innovations. Nevertheless, it is nothing but an organized path or a work process to help and facilitate creativity, instead of magically invent it from nowhere. You need creative talents holding different expertise in your organization in order to reflect their ideas into a prototype can that be tested and iterated.

To conclude, design thinking works because it is a collaborative process grounded in learning and testing. To fully embrace its value, organizations need not only simply change the work process, but also consider alignment in culture, people, and strategy for gaining best results from innovation.

At TBM Partners, we take integrative approach to develop and implement design thinking for clients through combing our deep insights from academia and decades of real work experiences and coaching your team along the way to identify opportunities for improved operations and growth.


To learn more about how we could help your organization transform and succeed with Design Thinking, talk to us by booking a 30 mins discovery call.

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