21.01.2019 in Analysis
Design Thinking

Definition of Design Thinking

Competition is essential in every field of business because it give consumer or a customer an opportunity to choose what please him or her. It is because various products are made available to the customer. The business is however obligated to provide high quality goods than their competitors. It is where design thinking comes in. Design thinking can be said to be human centered and mostly focuses on the customer’s needs and preference. Brown (2008) defines design thinking as  “ a human centered approach that makes the designer’s to combines the customer’s needs, the technological requirements and the business requirements for its success” (p. 84). It can be can be represented as in the fig 1.0 below.

(Fig 1.0 definition of design thinking) 

It is a problem solving technique that is carried out by first collecting details of a problem in the society. Then considering the possible technological requirements for the problem and using the designer’s creativity to solve the problem. Design thinking requires a certain level of decision making and hence it is commonly used in the business leadership. 

Application of Design Thinking in the Business World


The customer holds current and future life of any business, services and products produced. The business has also the responsibility of preserving the business ethics when providing goods and services to its customers. In the recent years, technology and innovation have been the main strategy that most businesses have been using to survive in a large growing and competitive market. A business that has been able to implement design making means that it has direct and personal relationship with their customers and truly understands them. The idea of design thinking is a great new destination in the world of business. Different organizations are diverse. Big corporations, start-ups, social and governmental services are trying to experiment with their problem-solving. Traditional methods are not always effective ones. 

History of design thinking in the business world

Ever thought of what used to happen in the ancient years where the main form of business was trade? Was design thinking still being used? The above questions can be answer by the following texts. Design thinking was used in those ancient days as we read in history. Different people used to exchange their goods for some other commodities. It was the community’s main responsibility to ensure that the trade was successful and their trade partners got what they wished. Take the example of a community that used to make tools for war such as arrows, bows and also other tools which used in the house work. They had to be innovative and use their knowledge of design thinking to make different tools using the same resources so as to maintain the trade.

Design making has been more popular in the 21st century starting from around 1960’s. The people at that time were more concerned with the social acceptance of the community and businesses could consider their customer’s view on how they viewed their social life. In 1980, the computers were becoming popular and some businesses started to integrate the customer’s needs with the technology of the time as explained by Martin (2009). . The idea remains but the change of technology and the customer’s tastes and preference is what is changing day in day out. 

Phases in design thinking in business 

The implementation of design thinking into a product takes place in five phases in which the designer first interacts with the customer and afterwards the designer makes the product. It is clearly demonstrated on the fig 1.0 below as explained by Dym, Agogino, Eris, Frey and Leifer (2005).

(Fig 1.1 phases of design thinking)

Empathy phase is the first stage in the design thinking. It is where the designer interacts with the customer and get detailed information on what he/ she requires to be designed. The designer is also supposed to study the audience that he/ she intends to serve and also does some little research. Research about the product is very essential because there might be other various products that might have been designed by other people. As a designer one should take time to study the products and learn more from the challenges that might have risen when designing the product. 

Define is the second phase in design thinking. It is where the designer states the requirements and specifications of the end user. The designer also factors out the possible problems expected with the creation of the product. The analysis of the whole project is done here where the designer determines if it is possible for the project to be successful. If it is possible, the designer continues to the next phase of ideate. 

Ideate is the central and most important stage in design thinking. It is where the designer comes up with as many ideas as possible to satisfy the requirements at hand. The ideas may differ but only the best ideas that favor the interests of the customer, technology and the business are used. However one might decide to implement two or more idea so as to give the customer a choice.

Prototype is a sample product that just works the same as the real product. The designer is supposed to take the ideas and implement the ideas into the creation of the product(s). In this stage the designer might decide to expand, merge or improve some ideas. The prototype is then tested.

Test phase is where the designer presents the prototype to the general public. It is done so that to get feedback from the audience and with this information, the designer can improve the product that he/ she is working on. The users will first be called upon to test if the product satisfies their wish. If it doesn’t, he/ she gives some recommendations on what should be done. 

The last three steps which are ideate, prototype and test are usually repeated until the customer is fully satisfied with the final prototype. The designer then proceeds to make a real product and presents it to the customer.  


Impacts of Design Thinking in Business

After the implementation of design thinking in the business, several impacts have been felt in the business. These can be said to be the pros and cons for design thinking in business. 

Pros of design thinking in business

There is increase of general outputs in the businesses. A business using design thinking is able to win most of the customer’s loyalty. This in return makes it possible for a business to make more sales and hence the business benefits from increased sales and profits. The use of design thinking has made it possible for the businesses to have personal relations with the customers. It is because the customer makes personal orders and the business personnel are able to interact with the customers and understand his/ her needs. Technology is very important when used appropriately in the business. The implementation of design thinking has helped the business to uphold the current technology in the business. (Buchanan 1992).

Cons of design thinking in business

Even though design thinking has so many advantages, there are some several disadvantages that are associated with it. One of them is that its implementation it’s very expensive. It is because one may be forced to make just one item at a time which is time consuming and also uses more resources than in mass production. Design thinking also requires a professional in the field and it may be expensive to hire one. Another disadvantage is that the prototype might be good and the customer might demand to buy the prototype that might develop faults in the near future. It may not work with some firms that don’t sell out their prototypes. 

Case Study 1: Fashion Design Firm

Fashion is a vital thing in today’s culture. Fashion can be described to be popular styles especially with dress and ornaments. Most of the people like to dress in a unique way and that’s where style comes in. The design, size and color are always differ according to the user’s preference. For example people go into those fashion design firms make their specific order that includes all the measurements for the wear and leaves the designer to work it out.

After a few days the customer returns for a prototype and then makes some recommendation or a go ahead signal for the product to be produced. Some of these fashion design firms includes Alexander McQueen. 

Case Study 2: Mobile Phones Manufacturing Companies

Mobile phones have been the most used products in the market. It is because they are cheap and also have been added applications that make human’s life more enjoyable and easier. The introduction of smartphones has been the biggest innovation in the mobile phone industry that has ever been made. Users can install or even choose the applications that are more pleasing to them. The mobile phone manufacturing firms are also implementing the design thinking in their business. It is through introduction of their new platforms where one can make an order of what to be incorporated in the mobile phones that they are manufacturing. They always present a prototype of a new products in their shops so that to get feedback from the users. Later the new product is launched in the market. It is also the same with android and windows applications. A good example is apple mobile phones. 

Case Study 3: Furniture Design Business

Many designs of furniture that is at our home once went through a designer. According to the different designed-houses, users taste and preference, it is hard for anyone to get a furniture that is ready made. Customer goes to the designer with proper specification on how he/ she would like furniture to look like, its color and also material to be used.  The designer then integrates the user’s specifications and the technology that is available to cater for the user’s needs. A good example is Herman Miller firm in United States. 

Case Study 4: Car Manufacturing Business

Cars can be made according to the specifications of the users. Most of the car manufacturing companies before they manufacture a specific type of a car, they first get information from the customers. They are supposed to make their orders according to the specifications that they have in mind. A good example is the Toyota manufactures. 


Design thinking has been the greatest implementation that has happened to most business. As the business continues to grow and unique products are being produced. Design thinking promotes creative thinking and innovation in the society. People are also getting to know how they can apply the knowledge of design thinking in their lives and make it better. The needs of the customers, in the past, were not considered and this made the business to have low sales because with the use of design thinking, people’s interest are being catered Zott and Amit, (2010) states that “The knowledge of design thinking can also be applied in other fields such as in leadership and also when it comes to studies.”(p. 220). It can be applied when it comes to decision making and also solving of some problems that might come up in our lives. In studies the students can be creative when doing their school work and also incorporate technology in their study. 


We can conclude that the use of design thinking has made businesses to prosper and also the customers to be satisfied with what they get. Design thinking happens in five important stages which are empathy, define, ideate, prototype and test. When all the five steps are utilized, the designer designs an up to standard products. Firms such as those described in the case study are using it to make their products more marketable. The future expectations of design thinking is that more innovation will take place that will cater for the human’s needs in a more diverse manner. 

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