What is Design Thinking: A Useful 4 Step Guide

Design thinking has always been one of the most in-demand skills in every field. Applying design thinking principles to your product strategy drastically improves the business success rate. This blog explains – what is design thinking & why is it so important. Learn the applications and different phases of the design thinking process, which are a must-know for all the creative leaders and tomorrow’s visionaries. 

Introduction to Design Thinking

Design thinking is a technique or an approach to solving problems creatively by using tools and philosophies, observing problems from users’ viewpoints, and finding practical solutions. It consists of six different phases that focus on a user-centric approach that helps Creative Leaders gain insights to build creative solutions in products and services.

The outline of the article in a nutshell:

  1. What is Design Thinking?
  2. Why is Design Thinking Important?
  3. What is the Design Thinking Process?
  4. What are the Applications of Design Thinking?

1. What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking
  • Design thinking involves using creative and innovative methods that help businesses create products customers love, which will in turn help them stay ahead of their competitors and generate more business opportunities. 
  • It uses elements from a designer’s toolkit like empathy and experimentation to create innovative and revolutionary solutions. 
  • Design innovation helps you become a Creative Leader by enabling you to make well-thought-out decisions and provide the best solutions.
  • It also helps in making decisions that are based on customers’ requirements. 
  • Further, it provides cost-effective solutions.

In brief, the design thinking process is an amalgamation of customer requirements, innovation, technology feasibilities, and the overall requirements for the growth of an organization.

2. Why is Design Thinking Important?

Design Thinking Importance

Design is not only about creating products that are appealing to users; instead, it is an approach that can be applied to systems, processes, and customer experiences. So, what is design thinking & why is it important for Creative Leaders?

  • Design thinking and innovation shifts the focus from being technology-driven to design-driven, and from marketing-focused to user-focused.
  • It draws on your imagination, creativity, and logic to create possibilities and outcomes that benefit the customers or end-users. 
  • Design thinking is key to developing ideas for the future and has always provided the world with Creative Leaders, pathbreakers, and tomorrow’s visionaries.

Here are a few points that you consider while developing a creative approach using strategic design thinking:

  • Framing questions – Brainstorming ideas to identify the right questions that should be asked to find creative and innovative solutions.
  • Gathering inspiration – Thinking out of the box and promoting new approaches by discovering what customers are looking for in the final product.
  • Generating ideas – Testing past solutions to find out the loopholes, defects, and then working towards overcoming those failures.
  • Make ideas tangible – Starting quick, low-risk experiments to build prototypes and keep improvising to make solutions that match the customer needs.
  • Testing to learn – Gathering feedback from peers and customers to refine ideas and keep doing experiments to deliver better solutions.
  • Crafting story – Putting all efforts together to craft a beautiful story that inspires everyone in the team towards action.

According to a design value index reported by the Design Management Institute, companies led by a design-centric approach like Steelcase, Whirlpool, Walt Disney, and Intuit have outplayed the S&P 500 by achieving a remarkable 211% return over 10 years. This report certainly proves how design thinking improves the success rate of a business.

In a survey conducted by Adobe, more than 75% of companies agreed on using design thinking in their business processes, and 69% of companies achieved greater success in innovation and design using the design thinking philosophy. Also, more than 10% of the Fortune 500 companies have designed as their topmost priority.

3. What is Design Thinking Process?

Design Thinking Process

The design thinking process is a non-linear path that follows an iterative approach to generate meaningful and functional ideas. It helps you understand the customer requirements and develop a design and innovation-based solution, starting with low-risk experiments. 

So, what is the design thinking process? It is creativity!

The innovation in design thinking follows an approach of three things mainly: understand, research, and implement.

A) Empathize: Understanding the problem statement

It is of the utmost importance to businesses that they empathize with their customers. Thinking from an end-user perspective helps you follow a human-centric approach in finding solutions that suit customer needs. This stage aims to analyze the requirements and gather inputs to empathize with customers and their perspectives.

B) Define: Analyze observation and define the needs of the customer

What is important in design thinking for innovation? Customers’ needs. You must ensure that your problem statement amplifies the positive observations of your customer needs and eliminates the bad elements. 

C) Ideate: Generate ideas

Brainstorming is the most exciting stage of a design thinking process as it allows you to come up with as many ideas as possible. Do not hesitate to bring all your teammates in a conference room and use notepad, sticky notes, chart papers, and whiteboards, etc. to share ideas.

D) Prototype: Build rough prototypes

Build rough prototypes for a subset of proposed ideas in the previous stage and check if the respective idea is feasible to deliver the final solution. Once you have a prototype ready, demonstrate the prototype to the customer, and gather feedback or suggestions to improve it further.

E) Test: Test solutions against your customer needs

This stage is where you must test the prototype that suits your customer needs and expectations best. Rigorously test the prototype, check if it delivers the expected results, and return to your customer to gather feedback.

F) Implement: Materialize your solution

This is the final stage of the design thinking process. You materialize the ultimate solution by transforming your vision into effect and deliver the product that addresses your customers’ problems and help them succeed. 

4. What are the Applications of Design Thinking?

Applications of design thinking

What is Design thinking, it is a process that applies to both public and private sectors irrespective of your role or industry, like e-commerce, business, sports, military, or government. Design thinking helps you in developing meaningful and innovative solutions based on customer requirements.

  • Business – optimizes the product creation and marketing process. Helps designers in building empathy for their clients/customers.
  • Healthcare – optimizes healthcare by delivering quality products at a reasonable price.
  • Education – understands the challenges of both teachers and learners and addresses their problems creatively.
  • Information Technology (IT) – develops empathy for their customers, brainstorming the possible ideas to deliver meaningful and cost-effective solutions.


So, to sum up, Design Thinking is a process to enhance the user experience and fuel the manufacturing of products that deeply resonate with end-users and their requirements. 

These are some of the key takeaways for you to implement design thinking in your workflow:

  • It is essential to remember that it is a human-centric approach and places customer needs at the center of the development process.
  • Design thinking is for the Creative Leaders of society and for those who are visionaries of tomorrow. You can apply design thinking everywhere and see the benefits of using it. 
  • Design Thinking is a recursive process, and you will surely provide better solutions and products with time.

To know more about what is design thinking and its applications, you can look at PGCP in Design Innovation and Strategy, an online program 5.5 month-program that will help you grasp the intricacies of Design, Innovation, and Creativity-Led-Entrepreneurship.

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