Decision-making, problem-solving and strategic planning in businesses invariably involve meetings, discussions and brainstorming sessions. But there are often times when we feel all these meetings and focus groups are futile.

Meeting-fatigue is often accompanied by the realization that nothing productive and fruitful is coming out of them.

If you have been in such situations, then you should seriously consider learning more about ‘design thinking’. Let’s take a look at how it can benefit businesses by analyzing real-life examples of design thinking and its salient aspects.

Design thinking for business

Design thinking has been seen to be effective in a number of organizations, irrespective of their size or the industry they operate in. At times, large-scale companies with strong hierarchies and several layers of administrative procedures find it difficult to transform their decision-making processes. However, the overall benefits of switching to agile design thinking processes are often more than the cons of undertaking the overhaul.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at certain areas where you can implement design thinking at work:

  1. Customer focus

Companies often intend to take decisions with customer welfare in mind. However, despite good intentions, the outcome happens to come across as irrelevant or insensitive to customers. Since these decisions are taken in isolation by top management, its implications are often not transmitted to the lower rungs of the organization that are more concerned with day-to-day affairs.

Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate multiple perspectives and get the input of cross-functional teams to develop customer-centric processes.

  1. Identification and explanation of the problem

Design thinking for business is crucial in defining the precise contours of the problem that needs to be solved. By creating a visual representation of the problem, you will be able to create effective and sustainable solutions.

  1. Create multiple options for the problem

Once you have identified the problem, the principle of design thinking helps you in adopting different approaches to solve it. The important thing is to take ideas from all members involved in decision making and create a bouquet of potential solutions.

  1. Shaping the shortlisted steps

After the identification of alternative solutions, the decision-making group needs to accept them. Past setbacks shouldn’t be a deterrent in trying out new ideas. By cultivating design thinking at work, you can create an environment conducive to developing new ideas. These ideas need to be collated, evaluated and further developed into viable solutions.

  1. Selecting the best solution

In the final stage, the action plan is created and resources that are needed to achieve the objectives are allocated.

  1. Design thinking process example

There is no doubt that design thinking for business is a useful framework but how does it work in practice?  Is it something that you actually need? How are companies that have implemented design thinking doing?

Let’s take a look at some examples of design thinking to understand the concept better:[PR10]

  1. Airbnb

Airbnb was once a nearly failed start-up, struggling to earn a weekly profit of about $200. The turning point came when it adopted design thinking. Today, it is a globally renowned multi-billion dollar brand. Design thinking enabled Airbnb to become an innovation-oriented brand.

  1. IBM

IBM is probably one of the best examples of design thinking in the world of business. The global giant has done a lot to boost its design thinking resources, including employing a sizable internal design team.

This reliance on design thinking has paid off.  IBM has managed a high return on its investment in design thinking. Apart from improving its profitability, the company has also made many of its design thinking assets available as an open resource.


As is clear from the examples of design thinking, it is a highly transformational approach to business intelligence. To learn more about design thinking and integrating it into your organizational processes, you can enroll for Harappa Education’s online Unleashing Creativity course. This course will help you use design thinking principles to solve real-world problems.

It has a Design Thinking section that will enable you to creatively solve problems by focussing on the end-user. Use this course to build your own design thinking tools and transform your business performance.

Explore topics such as Design Thinking & the Design Thinking Process from our Harappa Diaries blog section and develop your strategic thinking skills.

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