Design thinking is a team sport. Its like football, you can’t play it alone!


There has been no better tool, no better thought process than Design thinking to adopt to change. Changing users, changing market, changing competition, changing ecosystem – in business nothing is constant. The dynamism has become a nature of the business and many successful leaders have understood it. Those who thrive are the ones that have implemented Design Thinking to battle this change.

Now design thinking is a thought process. It is an organisation wide culture change. Quite similar to Total Quality Management(TQM) in the 80s or the Six Sigma in the 90s. Both TQM and Six Sigma are methods, processes and collective consciousness of the company in bringing a continuous improvement in production. As TQM and Six Sigma required – first training and then process changes across organisation – that is what design thinking will be requiring now. And the outcome INNOVATION.

When you look at the logic of design thinking – it makes sense. Design thinking was created as a method tosolve Wicked Problems . Wicked problems are problems that have no clear solution, when you try to solve it, like a Hydra’s head more problems arise. Some examples of wicked problem is pollution, eradicating Tuberculosis from India and the rich and poor divide in economy. Businesses have a lot of wicked problems – which product to create, how to get users to use my product, I don’t have that kind of budget – how do I compete in this market and so on. Wicked problems are often part of a large complex system. The factors contributing to the problem keeps changing.

And hence to counter wicked problems, design thinking was born. You needed to have creative + analytical ability. How do you do that? How do you become more creative? Try putting about 4 people in a room and ask them to ideate on a topic. Observe them closely. This is how most scenes would pan out – participant A starts with an idea, participant B will modify that idea, participant C will further modify it and so on. This is the process of individuals becoming creative. Creativity is team sport – its like football, it can’t be played alone. And then method to analyze… and here we use the tools of design – persona, empathy map, customer journey and so on.

Few point to note: –

1. Wicked problem is Systemic in nature and hence cross functional teams best do design thinking together. Anyways creativity is a team sport.

2. Wicked problem is dynamic in nature and hence design thinking needs to be iterative. It has to be done again and again to counter the dynamism.

3. The factors of wicked problems are very many. Design thinking narrows it to look from the perspective the user – both internal and external. And hence empathy as a tool becomes the ruling factor to the success of design thinking.

4. Empathy is best done by designers – who would study the user to understand their perspective and solve their unmet and uncalled out needs. Most people can solve called out needs. And hence designers became important in the whole cycle of things.

Tomorrow: Design thinking needs to challenge conventional thought process. That’s when innovation happens

This is summary drawn from the curriculum of the certification course in design thinking and innovation (Post graduate certification programme in Design thinking and innovation) being run by ImaginXP at Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies (SIMS), Pune. More information – /sims

Written by Shashank Shwet / June 26, 2018