Design Thinking: How to Make It a Culture

Rajeev MV, CTO of Mystifly has over 18 years experience in designing and implementing software by applying robust design principles. He has worked with various cross-functional teams across the globe. He shares his thoughts on Design Thinking in an organizational context, and making it a culture. 

Design thinking is not the new kid in town anymore. An assessment done in 2014, by the Boston based Design Management Institute, shows that many design-led companies including Apple, Coca Cola, Ford, IBM, Intuit, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks and Walt Disney have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming S&P 500 over the past 10 years by an extraordinary 228%. IBM is trying to embed design thinking into big data use cases to redefine user experience for end-users. 

Design thinking is the phenomenon behind making a customer inclined to spend $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, choosing a Macbook over a Dell laptop or even choosing a Vertu phone over an iPhone. This is the era of disruption, an era where the process of employing unique and creative techniques to yield guaranteed results has to be repeated to remain relevant and pertinent in the market.

To me, design thinking is the process of distilling the functionality of a product, removing the clutter and making the product accessible and pleasurable for the user. People like Jonathan Ive and Elon Musk are paving the way for new designers to look at design thinking from a whole new perspective. For instance, when you shut the Macbook, the LED is synced with your breath and heartbeat. This insane level of attention to detail is what makes them stand apart. A good design in this age is one which shares its rhythm with the physical world of the user.

Coming from the technology side of the business, my reasoning is biased in favour of the first principles. The focus is always on the process of sifting out the noise from the signal. In design thinking too, this is one of the key focus areas – to keep things simple yet irresistible. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle from the 60’s comes in handy here to overcome the challenge every organization faces with their product.

One way technology-centric companies can imbibe Design Thinking into their culture is by providing a platform for developers to connect about various product related problems and arrive at innovative solutions. Additionally, technology functions staying in touch with the global domains, UX design and backend processes across the globe will add mighty value to the organization and the business. Aligning technology functions with the overall business goals enables them to build and own functionalities that suit current business requirements.

Operations (Ops) is another vertical in any organization that can benefit remarkably from design thinking. When faced with challenges, employees in the Ops team generally find situational fixes to customer problems. If they apply design thinking toward understanding operational challenges, it would help them identify issues at the root. The trick to doing any job well is to understand and resolve core concerns and that’s what design thinking is for.

What are your thoughts on Design Thinking and instilling it into organizational practices?