Importance of Design Thinking for Business Growth


Design Thinking- What Does It Mean?

The world of business is dynamic and aggressively competitive and this is why companies must be flexible as well as innovative enough to survive in the market. Design thinking and innovation go hand in hand and this is a very popular method that organisations use for business growth. The design thinking process uses a human-centred approach to innovation and combines collaborative, interdisciplinary processes to come up with creative solutions that are in sync with market opportunities and user needs.

Difference between business thinking and design thinking

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The design thinking process works on a solution-based approach where organisations focus on finding solutions to the problems as opposed to taking the problem-based approach and this approach focuses on finding obstacles and limitations on why a problem exists. One of the main advantages of design thinking is that can be applied to several fields like architecture, business, engineering, etc. 

Design thinking and innovation recognises that design should achieve purpose and business goals, not just beauty. The core methodology behind this approach revolves around the customer and it considers people’s ethnographic background, behaviour, thinking, motivations, habits, and needs. 

Under the design thinking process, designers take the help of various tools and ways to ascertain problems, do research, formulate solutions and then analyse and study use cases to find the best way forward. During this process, while the designers study and train to create value for the customers and product, the methodology for design thinking can be implemented in various other departments from finance, and customer service to product development. 

Design Thinking- The Key to Business Growth & Innovation

Design thinking and innovation play a vital role in developing a product and help in putting a business into the market. There are numerous advantages of design thinking when it comes to business growth and this process works as a key element when it comes to the success of a business. 

The design thinking process ensures that any product or service that is developed and designed not only meets the criteria for customer satisfaction but also increases your business revenue and resources. Let us now look at the advantages of design thinking in business growth.

  • High Return on Investment (ROI) While Reducing Expenses

One of the major advantages of design thinking is the successful and swift delivery of products to the market and customer at decreased business expenses. Faster delivery of the product automatically generates a high ROI for the organisation. 

  • Helps in Building a Loyal Customer Base and Relationship

As discussed earlier, the design thinking process takes a human-centric approach where customer satisfaction is the main focus, and building communication and trust with the customers is a major point. Design thinking also boosts your customer base for more extended periods. 

  • Meet Customers’ Requirements in an Effective Manner

The design thinking approach and process involve the development of prototypes to conduct various tests and then implement customer feedback for quality assurance. If the design thinking approach is used effectively, the final product will undoubtedly meet the requirements of the customer. 

  • Motivates and Nurtures Innovation

Design thinking and innovation go hand in hand and undoubtedly the primary objective of the whole process is coming up with the best version of a product that meets all the criteria for customer satisfaction. Design thinking encourages designers and stakeholders to think out of the box. When an organisation takes the route of innovation, its business will subsequently grow and become successful.   

  • Implementation of Design Thinking Throughout Your Company

Design thinking is an approach that is not only meant for designers but also other teams so that it encourages cross-team collaboration. This way it helps in improving the performance of employees as they put in more effort.

Design Thinking- The Four Phases of Innovation

Design thinking uses a four-phase innovation framework for effective design thinking and innovation.

Stages of Design Thinking
  • Clarify

The first phase of design thinking depends on focusing on the problem. The phase narrows down its focus to identify the problem statement and then come up with the best outcome. All this is done by analysing, examining, observing, and then determining the problem. It also involves identifying the problems that prevented solutions in the past. 

To make concrete observations about the users, various tools and frameworks are used to gather facts and conduct thorough research. Even though this particular phase uses several tools, the key element remains the same- to observe without assumptions or biased expectations. Once the observations are collected they are shaped and reframed in the form of a statement or question.

  • Ideate

Ideation is the next step, once the problem or the question has been identified (not finalised). Designers make use of tools such as SIT (systematic inventive thinking) as it is very useful for creating an innovative process that can be replicated in the future. The main goal of the ideation in design thinking is to overcome cognitive fixedness and then come up with new and innovative ideas so that the identified problems can be solved. 

  • Develop

The third phase involves the development of concepts by critiquing and reviewing the range of possible solutions. The development phase includes parts like prototyping, testing, and experimenting to answer critical questions about a concept’s viability. This phase is not about perfection but experimenting with different ideas to see which part works and which doesn’t. 

  • Implement

Implementation is the final phase of this entire process and it is an extension of the development phase. The implementation phase begins with testing, examining the results, reiterating, and then testing again. This particular phase may even require teams to go back to a prior phase and refine until they come up with a successful solution. In this phase, the results are usually shared with stakeholders to reflect on the innovation management strategies that were implemented during the design thinking process. 

Design Thinking- Real-World Examples

Let us now look at some real-world examples of the design thinking process where some well-known brands have leveraged design thinking for business growth.

  • Oral B

Design thinking and innovation put initiatives to the test before implementation so that they can find effective solutions. When Oral B planned on upgrading its electric toothbrush, they took on board designers Sam Hecht and Kim Colin. The company wanted to add more functions like observing gum sensitivity, tracking brush frequency, etc. for electric toothbrush users. 

However, the designers observed and pointed out that most users saw brushing teeth as a neurotic act and did not want additional functionality. Instead, the designers recommended two solutions. The first one was to make the toothbrush easier to charge, specifically while users were on the road or travelling. Another one was easing the process of ordering replacement heads by allowing toothbrushes to connect to phones and send reminder notifications. Once these changes were implemented, they proved to be successful because they focused on what users wanted and not on what the company wanted to do. 

  • Airbnb

Airbnb became a success even when it started by making around $200 a week. The founders recognised that the advertised pictures uploaded by the hosts online were low quality and that was proving to be a deterrent for customers who wanted to rent rooms. 

To find a solution to this problem, the founders took time to travel to each of the locations listed on their site and imagine what users look for in a temporary place to stay. Their solution was to invest in a high-quality camera and then take pictures of the things that customers want to see. For example, showing every room, highlighting the neighbourhood, and listing special features. The result of making these changes was that the revenue of Airbnb doubled in a week. Instead of focusing on traditional business values like scalability, Airbnb used design thinking to understand why their existing clients were not using their services. 

  • UberEats

UberEats- a successful go-to food delivery service app attributes its success to its ability to empathise with customers and to reiterate quickly.

The best example of design thinking implemented by Uber Eats is their Walkout Program, where designers observe the cities in which the company operates and understand the pain points of the delivery partners. One of the innovations that came out of this research was the driver app, which focuses on providing delivery partners step-by-step directions from restaurant to customer to ensure a smoother delivery process.


Design thinking plays a vital role in accelerating business growth. Design thinking process if implemented successfully can help generate new ideas, solutions, and opportunities. Instead of focusing on how others have approached a problem, design thinking and innovation focus on charting your course to deliver what users and customers truly need. So, if you want to gain expertise in design thinking, you must pursue the Executive Programme in Product Innovation & Design Thinking For Business Growth by CEP, IIT Delhi in collaboration with Jaro Education. The programme covers all the essentials of design thinking, from insights to viability. Enrolling in the course can prove to be a practical path if you want to improve your design thinking skills or if they require a more collaborative effort.

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Q.1 What is the meaning of design thinking? 

Ans. The design thinking process involves taking a human-centric approach understanding the challenges and redefining problems to create alternative solutions. This is a solution-based technique that is used to resolve problems and involves the principles of thinking as well as working. It also involves a deep understanding of the people for whom we are designing the products or services. 

Q.2 What are the benefits of Design thinking implemented for business growth?

Ans. Some essential benefits of implementing design thinking for business growth are:

    • Faster product delivery to the market
    • Reduction in expenses and high Return on Investment (ROI)
    • Building a loyal customer base and relationship
    • Meeting the customers’ requirements effectively
    • Nurtures innovation
    • Implementation of design thinking throughout a company

Q.3 What are the key elements of design thinking?

 Ans. The key elements of design thinking include:

    • Inspiring Creativity
    • Problem Redefinition
    • Cross-Functional Collaboration
    • Rapid Prototyping and Testing

Q.4 How can design thinking contribute to better understanding and meeting the needs of our customers? 

The design thinking process plays a very important role in understanding as well as meeting the needs of customers by focusing on their perspective in the problem-solving process. By using a design thinking approach, organisations can gather deep insights, develop empathy, and then create truly customer-centric solutions. By using design thinking organisations conduct thorough user research, interviews, and observations to gain a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, desires, and pain points.

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