For more than a century, the concept of social technology has been part of corporate growth that companies employed as best practices, tried for collaboration, and opened in communication, and with increasing technology, developed into various kinds of networks. No one called these attempts of corporate growth innovation or creativity. It was just the struggle of competing in the business world.
Today, enterprises are faced with the more dynamic reality so that big business must pay attention to the demands of consumers, their customers, rather than the competition posed by other companies. It is the user of products and services who direct the growth of the economy by what customers want and need in their lives. It’s not the former “keeping up with the Joneses,” because it is looking for more conveniences and the latest in what technology can offer.
This means that businesses have to connect to their public, and to their customers’ expectations who are looking for better solutions for their needs. Design thinking has most recently stepped into this gap of finding satisfactory and innovative solutions for customer demands with its versatile 3 – 5 – 6 steps process, depending on which group of design thinkers are using it. Design thinking is malleable.
DHR International, a global executive research firm, found that corporate leaders by and large mostly fear being disrupted out of existence, i.e., out of market relevance due to the rapid pace of innovation. Creating a culture of innovation is most difficult, demanding a specific mindset; innovation is a competitive imperative. Most companies are not reaching innovative goals. The right, clearly defined leadership is necessary for innovative pacesetting. This leader must create a culture of innovation throughout the organization; a single CEO cannot do it in isolation. Innovate or perish.
Innovation that is undertaken by Design Thinking should be incorporated into a culture of innovation and “built into the network of collaborators with a spirit of inquiry”. In this setting, innovators interpret their own use of Design Thinking in the context of their company culture of innovation. This way, teams can create solutions for customers who couldn’t dream of having and would receive a high valued result they would even pay for. This is done by contextualizing the customer into the interaction of reframing the issue in the new light of the dynamic process of design thinking.
Jeanne Liedktka, University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, composed this comprehensive definition of Design Thinking, which says it all:
Design Thinking is a problem-solving methodology (especially well-suited for investigating ill-defined problems) that is human-centered, possibility-focused, and hypothesis-driven. It is a style of thinking that combines empathy for the users and immersion in the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and a data-based experimental approach to assessing the quality of solutions.”
This working definition of Design Thinking sets the parameters of innovation for any organization that is seeking to establish a culture of innovation to stay influential in the corporate marketplace.
- Harvard Business Review: The State of Innovative Leaders Report 2018 – The Status of Forward-Thinking Leaders.
- Rongala, Arvind, (2019). Design Thinking: A Social Technology That Fosters Innovation – Innovation Management.
- Liedtka, Jeanna, (2013): professor, U. of VA, Darden School of Business.