Why Leveraging Design Thinking in Business is the Key to Success

Big Think Edge | August 08, 2017

Design thinking, or applying the principles of creative design and reasoning to business challenges in a way that focuses on the needs of people, is gaining momentum as the new standard operating procedure for companies across the globe. Educational institutions are starting to offer special design thinking courses to students as the demand for design thinking-cognizant workers increases.

Why should your business incorporate design thinking in its practices? The answer is simple: doing so can be the key to success as a business!

Thinking Creatively Boosts Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a serious concern for every business. According to statistics from Gallup, “a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged” and “companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.”

Think about that for a second. This means that 9 out of 10 of your employees aren’t engaged with their work on average, and you could improve your company’s earnings by as much as 147% if you could just get those employees engaged with their work.

The reasons for employee disengagement with work are numerous. For example:

  1. Work can be boring;
  2. Employees can feel disenfranchised when they don’t have input; and
  3. A lack of participation by managers can create a disconnect.

For many workers, there’s a short “honeymoon” period where, according to Gallup’s research, “the first six months at a new job are the best” for employee engagement—and “only half (52%) of employees are engaged at this point.” After that, engagement goes down significantly.

Design thinking in business acts as a foil to several key problems in keeping employees engaged with their work.

First, design thinking is a collaborative, iterative process that encourages employees to provide input. This helps employees feel like they’re more of a part of the company’s success. Also, it can help alleviate the boredom of doing the same things every day since employees are actively encouraged to find new, more efficient or user-friendly ways to complete tasks.

Second, the collaborative nature of the process also encourages participation from management. This helps close the divide between leaders and followers in the company as managers listen to and enact ideas from employees. It gives workers a chance to learn from others, building a sense of community and shared interest at all levels of the organization.

Improving Workplace Processes Will Help Increase Efficiency

Design thinking involves continuously iterating processes and products to find ways to make them better and more efficient—making processes work for people rather than making people work for processes.

In almost any organization, there’s a task or process that is the product of a now-defunct rule or practice. Adhering to an established way of doing things may minimize disruption, but doing so mindlessly can also leave the organization rigid and unable to respond to changing situations.

When businesses use design thinking, they constantly look to iterate and improve upon their practices—finding new ways of doing things that are more effective or efficient so less time is wasted and productivity can increase.

This has the added benefit of making employees more flexible in the face of disruptive changes in the industry, since they’ll be more practiced at assimilating changes into their work routines.

All in all, design thinking helps to create a workforce that’s more engaged, flexible, and innovative—driving business success and giving you an edge over competitors.

Learn more about design thinking from the experts by checking out our short-form videos in the Big Think Edge-exclusive design thinking course!

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