Forbes has come up with its own definition of Design Thinking amidst so many other “floating” interpretations of this buzzword: “Design thinking combines creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained. It’s a mindset focused on solutions—not the problem.”
Though design thinking is classified as a buzzword, the real focus in industry today is innovation. Design thinking is the tool of innovation. Jeanne Liedka puts it this way: “It is turning abstract ideas into practical application for maximal business growth.” For her, then, design thinking is the tool of innovation, whereby, through design thinking, an organization employs the process of creative and critical questioning to develop a mindset open to solutions. In industry, the practical buzzword is innovation.
In the Amazon review of the book Designing for Growth, “the authors cover the mindset, techniques, and vocabulary of design thinking, unpack the mysterious connection between design and growth, and teach managers in a straightforward way how to exploit design’s exciting potential.” These are the words of someone who knows the “secret” of design thinking to work magic with its results. Secret weapons are always a mystery to opponents or competitors.
For the survival of companies in today’s fast changing environment, innovation is the only way forward. There are many resources available to upstart enterprises such as venture capital, lines of credit, crowdfunding, business grants, support of investors as in “Shark Tank”, and even bankruptcy reorganization. But the healthiest resource is the enterprise’s own potential creative thinking.
As the Amazon review continues its pitch: “… design thinking unlocks creative right-brain capabilities to solve a range of problems. This approach has become a necessary component of successful business practice, helping managers turn abstract concepts into everyday tools that grow business while minimizing risk.” This last thought is vital for a cash strapped enterprise. The design thinking tool of its Design Sprint is a short, quick, and highly effective way to reach solutions at minimal cost. It’s truly a company’s secret weapon of success.
Every company works hard for immediate growth and long-term success. The flexibility and agility of design thinking offers both results. The tool Design Sprint is short; its 5-step process is completed within 4 days. Once tested for the innovation, it is launched for long-term use, because the product is never final in its opening offering; there is built-in capacity/potential for updating and improvements. Innovation is not a “once-for-all-times” product but an ongoing mindset of growth. Potential is the power of continued life and growth rather than being stuck at the starting gate. Design thinking is the soul of a dynamic company; innovation is its epiphany.
 Liedtka, Jeanne; Ogilvie, Tim. (2011). Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers. Columbia University Press, Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.