To delight customers, make them part of your innovation process.

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According to the design management index, design-oriented companies have outperformed others for the past ten years [1].

Unfortunately for most businesses, despite such compelling statistics, design is still a superficial layer of aesthetics; a face-lift – visualised by designers working in silos, away from their customers.

But if we dig deeper, design is more than just good looks. Design is about adding value to people’s lives, while fulfilling both altruistic motives and business goals.

Why does Design Thinking matter for your business?

We don’t have to look far to see the value of Design Thinking. When Walmart revamped its e-commerce experience, unique visitors to its website increased by 200 percent. When Bank of America undertook a user-centered redesign of its account registration process, online-banking traffic rose by 45 percent.

Design Thinking is the single biggest competitive advantage you can have, because when you solve for your customers’ needs first, they win. And when they win, you always win.

So as a CEO or business strategist, if you are trying hard to differentiate your company or service without thinking about the user experience, you are probably missing out on a very, very important business lever.

So what exactly is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a methodology that helps us solve complex problems. It is essentially a human-centered innovation approach which emphasizes on placing the end user at the center of the problem-solving process and brings together design, technology and business, to create the best possible solution.

Design Thinking is all about keenly observing and learning from a customer, and refining your strategy along the way. Because no matter how smart we are, we don’t always know the future. So to create innovative products and services, we have to embrace the discovery process that’s embedded in Design Thinking and nurture a learning environment.

How can your team embrace the Design Thinking culture?

To put in place a ‘learn-test-learn’ approach and create a learning-driven environment, it is important to integrate a few key factors into your organisation. These include a customer-centric approach, where understanding the customer becomes everybody’s job, designing around user insights, and the capability to act quickly and evolve continuously.

A good example of an organisation with a thriving design culture is Amazon. The Amazon executive team is required to visit the call center and listen to the customers’ needs firsthand. This is a great example showcasing how everybody is in charge of understanding the customers’ needs, motivations, pain points, and behaviour –factors which become paramount while solving business problems. Establishing this culture is very important. And it starts from the realisation that understanding the customer is not just the designer’s job.

Note: For a deeper understanding of Design Thinking and how to apply this methodology to your business, join us for an interactive workshop on Saturday, April 30th at Le Meridien, Pune. Click here to know more.

References: [1] Jeneanne Rae, “Good design drives shareholder value”, Design Management Institute, May 2015, dmi.org

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