While it’s not a new approach, more and more businesses are paying attention to design thinking. It’s often the missing piece of the puzzle when product design goes wrong. In fact, according to Kevin Argus, design thinking can be applied to almost anything.

“Design thinking is all about reimagining what value looks like: better leadership for a better world, better marketing for a better world, better design for a better world. It’s not only the design of products and services but also of organisations.”

If you’re curious about how to implement design thinking in your role or organisation, here’s what you need to know.

What is design thinking?

At the heart of it, design thinking is human-centred design.

It’s so often the case that design is based on how you think someone will use a product, service or process. Design thinking puts the needs of the end user first and refines the product based on the user experience.

“Design thinking is predicated on conducting deep research to understand the stakeholders that you impact,” explains Argus.

“It’s a very inclusive approach where you try to get everyone involved in the design process to apply a diverse lens. It’s about thinking about what’s possible within the boundaries you have.”

What is the design thinking process?

Design thinking follows a five-step framework that’s iterative in nature. In a design thinking course, you would learn these steps in greater detail.

What is a design thinking approach? As an overview, the steps are:

  1. Empathise. The process starts with the user and understanding their needs through observation. This is done through empathy and without judgement.
  2. Define. Based on the observations gained from the first stage, you can then define the problem that needs to be solved.
  3. Ideate. With the problem identified, the next step involves brainstorming ideas in response to the problem. This is a creative and collaborative process rather than an individual one.
  4. Prototype. The next stage takes the ideas and creates a concrete product or fleshed-out concept that can be tested. The prototype isn’t the final product and doesn’t need to be perfect.
  5. Test. At this stage, the prototypes go to the end users for testing. This stage may also involve refining and more testing.

Key design thinking principles

The design thinking process is underpinned by a set of principles. These include:

  • User-centricity. Rather than starting with a problem that needs to be solved, you allow your end-user observations to define the problem.
  • Empathy. By stepping into the customer/end user’s shoes, you can truly appreciate and understand the problem you need to solve.
  • Experimentation. Through the experimentation process, you can test and refine based on user feedback.
  • Action. While ideation is a critical stage in the process, design thinking is hands-on and requires action rather than conversation.
  • Collaboration. Design thinking works best when you draw on diverse ideas and perspectives.

Why is design thinking important?

Why use design thinking? To demonstrate the value of the design thinking approach, Kevin Argus shares an example of a project he has worked on that involved reimagining the credit card of a large bank.

“People don’t visit branches like they used to, and they mostly do their banking online,” he says. “Their credit card is really the last tangible thing many people have as a connection to their bank.

“In looking at the design, accessibility and inclusivity were really important, so they included braille on the card, which is inclusive for blind people.

“But then through research, they also found that sustainability is an expectation of Gen Z and millennials, so that also informed the design.”

In design thinking, everyone is a designer, whether you’re the CEO or managing director, middle management, or a teller in a bank branch. It’s not just up to one team to solve a problem; it’s a universal approach.

Design thinking solves concrete problems rather than problems that are imagined by people in head office, people who are often removed from the situation. A single management interview doesn’t define the trajectory. Real life and real user observations do. Plus, it also fosters innovation, collaboration and efficiency.

Learn more in a design thinking course

What skills can you get from an MBA? Design thinking is likely one of them. Given how valuable design thinking is for organisations today, many MBAs include a design thinking course as a foundational subject.

You’ll learn what design thinking is in business and how to run a design thinking workshop. But more than that, you’ll have the practical skills to utilise design thinking to progress your career.

If you’re thinking, “Why study an MBA?”, design thinking is one big reason. The reality is, in an increasingly competitive market, having the knowledge and skills to implement design thinking is invaluable.

However, an MBA also gives you other critical skills and connections that you can leverage throughout your career. It’s a design thinking course, a finance course, a management course, and so much more, rolled into one impressive qualification.

Design your next move

If you’re looking to explore more on design thinking, and see an MBA in your future, take the first step and speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor. We can guide you through the best course options for your individual needs so you can get the most out of your MBA.

Are you ready to make your move? Contact us today.

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