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Design Thinking: A Competitive Edge

Designomics is a series that will immerse you into the field of design. This section focuses on the principles of business design. We bring you interviews with industry leaders and case studies in this and upcoming articles

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Yes, think Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft. All of them have one thing in common - they value innovation. And where there is innovation, there is design thinking! It is the competitive edge your business needs. 

A report by IBM highlighted that organizations that have embraced Business Design dealt with shifting marketplace demands and disruption better. Their estimated increase in revenue growth in the first half of 2021 was 58 percent higher than others. Design is the differentiator for innovative solutions and great ideas that win over consumers and establish trends. The C-Suite has recognized its value, and organizations are encouraging employees to carve out dedicated time to think and innovate. We all know about Google's '20 percent time' rule! 

NeuroMetrix, a healthcare company based in Massachusetts, developed Quell, a wearable device for chronic pain relief. They reached out to IDEO, the design company, to help create the design (interaction design, industrial design, and mechanical engineering) and bring the device to the consumer. Design thinking helped produce this wearable that provides drug-free relief to millions. 

Similarly, the Board of Innovation, the business design & innovation strategy firm, helped Philips launch OneBlade. The blade got designed keeping the shaving needs of millennials in mind. It allows consumers to shape, trim, and shave with one blade and much more. This product required a disruptive business design approach, and it became one of their most successful launches. 

PwC helped Chipotle (the American restaurant) create a loyalty program to help grow their business. Using BXT - business expertise, human-centered experience design, and technology, they worked out the strategy, tested, and launched the new loyalty platform that saw a 99 percent increase in digital sales. 

The IBM report also highlighted that more than 82 percent of businesses that have adopted the practices of business design value it as a revenue generator. All this does not mean you, the individual, cannot apply it to your life. Same for small businesses and start-ups. Design thinking (DT) is the way forward and can help you stand out.

I caught up with Prof. Pradyumna Vyas, a board member of the World Design Organization (WDO), to decode empathy and wicked problems through the design thinking process. Excerpts: 

Professor Pradyumna Vyas Why design thinking? 
Well, it is a problem-solving mindset that allows for innovation. You are well-positioned to humanize technology and leverage it for the best possible solutions to problems that are likely to appear in the future. You would be well ahead of your competitors with such ideas. Imagine that! 

To me, a good example would be Netralaya, the not-for-profit ophthalmic care hospital in Chennai. The fact that they were able to create such a space is brilliant. 

Tell me about empathy during the process?
Yes, empathy is the central ingredient in this process. It allows you, the researcher, to feel and experience what your consumers would, and therefore, your offering will resonate with them on all levels.  

This is interesting! You mentioned we need to stay alert for wicked problems. Could you explain, please? 
Wicked problems are difficult to solve and complex. When coming up with a solution often, you might end up with more problems. We need to break these down and test the solutions to avoid them.

Designomics is a series that will immerse you into the field of design. Our upcoming articles focus on the principles of business design. We will bring you interviews with industry leaders and case studies. 

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designomics magazine 12 March 2022