Solutioning Unconventionally – Design Thinking in Business

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 3094 , Published on 06 July 2014

Unwelcome as the message '“Page cannot be displayed”' is, clucking our tongues at the screen also doesn't do much to change it – especially when we've spent an eternally long five minutes staring at “Processing Transaction – please do not hit back button”. Oh! The frustrating number of times we have faced this while booking online tickets!


On one such wonderful occasion I frowned at the failed transaction message and resumed staring at the cat pictures on my colleagues desktop. I had decided to wait for as long as it took to attempt booking the same seat tickets again, hoping it would have reset the selection. Christmas came early that season, when a representative of the company called me almost immediately and said:

“Ma’am, we see that you have been trying to book tickets through our portal and we regret the inconvenience caused to you due to the net congestion. Please try again after exactly 15 minutes when we would have reset your booking process. If in case the problem occurs again, do call me on this very number and I will personally book the tickets.”

I thanked the representative and hung up. As dazed as I continued to be post this rare customer experience, I noted that this new, empathetic introduction actually had an official name. It's called Design Thinking. So what is Design Thinking in it? Tim Brown. Tim Brown, President and CEO of IDEO – a global design consultancy, puts it in definitive terms quite appropriately:

“Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for business success.”

Design thinking is a process to identify the areas of improvement and to implement the improvements. As Angela Yeh, Founder – Yeh Ideology puts it, design thinking is “solutioning unconventionally”. It is quite different from conventional designing however very similar to the thought that goes into creating any design. It breaks the linear process of identifying the goal, keeping in mind the constraints and optimizing a solution. It builds a communication network of ideas that expand the horizon and scope of any innovative problem solving. In the online ticket booking instance, the design thinking behind the evidently seen customer service was to ensure customer repeatability and word-of-mouth epidemic through differential customer experiences.

The last ten years have seen businesses implement the designer’s way of thinking not just in production of consumer products, but in service provision and business strategies as well. Creative ideas based thinking is increasingly seen even in functions like finance, marketing, branding and academics. It not just gives a measure of the monetary or quantitative growth of a company, but also helps strategize the non-quantitative aspects such as brand value, customer loyalty, etc. Even in HR management practices, design thinking is explicitly noticed in reviewing resume, wherein the overall diversity and adaptability of the candidate are assessed, more than the basic qualification or specializations. In fact, Jack of all trades is preferred over Master of one as specialization tends to restrict viewing any real-time business solutions in a single set practiced way. Companies also look for top management with the ability to think broad and design innovative and fresh ways to keep the customer in loop through the developing and delivering phase. This causes constructive interactions with the customer and helps deliver innovative ideas with a difference. Today, various visionaries and business executives from globally renowned firms believe that the movement called Design Thinking is the next revolutionary process in the field of Business Management.

From post-it stamps to engraving phrases on Indian rotis, design thinking has always been latently prevalent. But with the recent explicit manifestation of the concept, Design Thinking as a conscious effort in each business would transform the face of today’s management practices across the globe.

The article has been authored by Kalyani Seshadri, TAPMI Manipal


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