Most times as a professional, the essence of your work can be distilled down into two words: solving problems. This is true regardless of what kind of work you do—be it manufacturing, software development, or even accounts at a  grocery store.

Some of these problems can be resolved easily. You can solve simple problems about distribution, apparent clashes of wants or needs, or ideologies through systematic discussions and open debates. But you need to explore complex issues faced by production, manufacturing, or sales in detail before you can find a solution.

Simple or complex, there is one key technique that can help you solve problems and overcome challenges more effectively than others. This is the design thinking method. Its premise is simple—it focuses on problem-solving through a thorough understanding of the stakeholders’ needs and challenges.

Instead of rushing headlong into a challenge, design thinking requires you to look at a problem from the perspective of the user or consumer before crafting a solution.

But how do you inculcate such a process? The key is to understand that all market demands are based on human needs.

The reason for the focus on the user’s perspective is simple. In this highly competitive marketplace, the user is the king. Technology, healthcare, design or political structures, everything must keep in mind the final user, the very last individual who will use the services or the commodity. The larger the scale, the greater the complexity.

With the design thinking process, one has access to simple tools that assist in finding out-of-the-box solutions to complex issues. Once an individual understands what design thinking is, they are better equipped to deal with tricky problems with confidence.

What is design thinking?

To put it in simple terms, the design thinking process is a method that allows an individual to tackle highly complex and seemingly unresolvable problems. Problems that seem so larger than life and stressful can be solved by incorporating the following steps of design thinking.

  1. Empathizing

The process of design thinking starts with empathy. It simply involves looking at the problem from the end user’s perspective without any assumption or bias. What would one do if they were in the same situation?

By finding out what the person says, does, feels, and thinks, one might be able to grasp the situation. Looking at it from a third-person view, the stakeholder will be able to get the clarity they need. Also, if you understand what the other party is thinking, you are more motivated to find solutions. Only when you put yourself in the other’s shoes can you find out how they can tackle the problem.

  1. Defining

The next step in the design thinking approach is defining the problem. Once you’ve collected all the data about the problem and the pain points for the end-user, it becomes easier to define the problem in a statement. Statements are easy to understand and help to get all the people concerned on the same page.

Clearly defining the issues ensures that there are no gaps in communication. Keeping in mind that one is trying to solve a problem for a human being or a group of human beings, it is best to approach it in human terms rather than business terms.

  1. Ideating

The next step in design thinking is ideating a solution. Based on the data collected and the analysis of said data, one might be able to come with an idea to tackle the problem at hand. This is where an individual moves on from identifying the problem and starts focusing on the exploration of the solutions.

While discussing the ideas for the solution, one can begin to prioritize them and look at them rationally without rushing into any of them. Methodically formulating these ideas will ensure that the problem is solved to its entirety and that there are no unsavory compromises or sacrifices made to achieve a solution.

  1. Prototyping

After you explore, discuss, and communicate different ideas, the stakeholder can move forward with the next design thinking stage called prototyping. This is the step that helps all involved parties look a the applicability and sustainability of the idea.

When a low-cost prototype is created, even on paper, the externality of it helps one identify the problems and progress needed in the solution. Prototypes also help the parties concerned gather an idea about costing, expenses, and the work power required to finish or complete the task at hand. This sets up realistic standards and ensures productivity and better or enhanced workflow management.

  1. Testing

Once one has a working prototype, they can move on to the final step of the design thinking process—testing. The prototype needs to be tested by respective stakeholders to see how they interact with it and what changes need to be done. If this step is successful, that means that the product is ready for distribution after changes suggested in the testing step.

After running the tests with authorities on the subject, one can gather technical and theoretical insights about the product or the solution at hand. However, it is also important to test the solutions with laypeople or those who might be able to benefit from the solution. This ensures that the solution is practical and not biased towards any particular group or individual requirements.

Why is design thinking important?

The design thinking approach is person-centric. Since the individual person who benefits from the services or commodities is the final user, it is imperative to include design thinking in business strategies. It allows the stakeholder to thoroughly understand the pain points of the user.

By empathetically looking at the problems a person is facing, the workers gain renewed motivation and energy to sort out the problem. Taking the end-user’s needs and thoughts into account makes the problems become relatable rather than mere business transactions.

As the design thinking processes involve the end-user directly right from the beginning, the team has a clear idea as to what they are working towards. Following its stages helps one perform efficiently. Because what these steps do is take away the enormity and the abstraction of creating something new.

These steps convert a seemingly huge task into smaller, more manageable parts. The completion of each of these helps in gaining better knowledge about the subjects, while continuously moving towards a set objective.

Design thinking in business

The design thinking approach works best in the development of core business strategies. As it focuses on a holistic understanding of the issue at hand, it employs various intrapersonal as well as interpersonal elements of conflict resolution, systems development, or management.

As a system based on absolute collaboration, there is a high chance that the team or the individual will be motivated enough to understand the requirements of the user and cope with the demands of seniority at the workplace.

With healthy collaboration, the workers will not feel burnout or a sense of overwhelming odds due to the complex issue they are handling. As the strategies and the ideation phase bring clarity, it becomes easier to work towards the goal.

Design thinking is essentially creative at its core. Rather than implementing the same old structures, one can look for new ideas. By incorporating these highly effective tools for out-of-the-box thinking, any organization can make its decision-making process a little easier and smoother.

Harappa Education offers a course called Unleashing Creativity where you can learn about the design thinking approach and the benefits and applications of design thinking in business from leading educators and trainers. Through the integrated framework of design thinking, you will be able to tackle real-life problems through empathy. It allows an individual to focus on the final end-user and find out creative ways to come to a solution. Encouraging you to find an answer through ways that were not obvious, this course will increase your superiors’ as well as customers’ satisfaction and renew your confidence at the workplace.


Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics related to the Think habit such as What is Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking & What is an Argument.

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