Implementing Design Thinking 

Design thinking focuses on understanding people’s needs and creatively discovering solutions. It helps organisations to maintain the pace required to adapt to the current reality. 

To stay in sync with your customers and offer solutions that work in the real world a design thinking process is central. 

In this article, I am following the process as defined by IDEO, one of the foremost agencies that are helping companies around the world solve problems with design thinking. 


Culture eats process for breakfast – Drucker

Always start with building the right culture because culture is stronger than process. Culture means the unspoken rules of behaviour in an organisation. People will automatically get out of the new process if it does not fit with culture. 


The goal of design thinking is not creativity it is innovation. Simply defined innovation is applied creativity. Successful implementation of design thinking should be a measurable output. It could be market share, profitability, rate of production etc. 


The conventional understanding of data may not work with design thinking. Our biases often lead us to gather/interpret data that confirms our expectations. The only way to understand future is to build your way forward as Kelly of Ideo would state. Take your offer or product right to the end-user and learn from their feedback. A survey may not help because in a survey you are defining parameters. Interaction with the end-user will help you gain unbiased feedback. When your end-user is tinkering with your product that is when you will be able to derive an emotional reaction. Emotions are central in purchase decisions. A survey does not elicit an emotional response. 


Failure is the stepping stone to success, this cliche could not be more true in a design thinking process. Read failure as more of an iterative step. Develop flexibility and capacity to invest around change based on end-user experience.  

Empower your teams and lower their fear of failure. Do not try to push a product through, be utmost sincere to the process. 

Cross Collaboration – Team building 

Design thinking is a collaborative process, you will have to bring together teams from various functions to solve problems. To build an effective team mutual respect amongst team members is required. 

Operations might think that marketing is not doing very much and marketing might think finance is slow to respond. A great way to start is to have each function in the cross-collaborative team give a presentation around the work they do. The presentation should talk about regular work, problem-solving, challenges. To give an idea of time required for tasks concerning a particular function in the presentation will be very helpful. 

Research shows that social trust is crucial. Teams that interact on social topics and have a good respectful understanding of each other work better. Try to device some leisure time out of the work environment for building better relations in the team members. The size of the team would also play an important role and too large a team and cohesion will be compromised. Interpersonal relations thrive in smaller teams. 

Common language

Language is powerful. To have an understanding of the language being used by a team member will empower seamless coordination and exchange of ideas.  

Try to avoid jargons and follow simplicity, build a legend of technical terms and share. 


The best of teams will not be able to perform in the wrong environment. Building an impartial, transparent and empowering space for your team is important. Give them the time and resource required in a focused manner. Ensure that the team is provided with an audience with the management regularly. Office politics around insecurity is a productivity killer. Fresh talent is required to bring in fresh ideas and a seasoned senior talent is required to guide with the execution. By allowing the team members audience with the management informational and decisional biases can be mitigated. 

Design thinking is not only about thinking outside the box, but it is also very much about thinking out of the culture.