Design thinking for Business Innovation

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Design thinking and business innovation

The usual terms and expressions we associate with design are uniqueness, wow factor, and successful solutions. Surprisingly, all three fit in very well to establish and run a business. There is no doubt then design thinking is a highly crucial aspect of business innovation.

Why go for design thinking for business innovation?

It is evident from examples taken from all around the world that businesses powered by design perform much better than the rest. When the principles and guidelines of design thinking are applied to a business strategy, productivity, as well as the success rate of the innovation or technology, shows an impressive surge. The reasons are many and well-structured. Firstly, a design-led business has the potential for constant redesigning and ready redevelopment. In short, such businesses shall not fail easily because they always have alternative design options to resort to, and therefore that many times success rates.

Secondly, design thinking for business innovation guarantees two very important parameters for a successful business – constant innovation and improved efficiency. The design process, be it in any field, always aims at creating a goal to attain a preferable solution and involves devising a course of action to attain the same. A successful business strategy is no different.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is not, however, synonymous with design, for it focuses more on the process and the framework rather than the solution itself. Context is what is of utmost importance to design thinking, and it involves five chief components – framing, ideating, refinement, delivering, and innovation. The structure provided by design thinking is of paramount importance, and it acts like a thinking cycle. The individual or the team adapts itself to the needs of building a context, framing opportunities, experimenting and exploring ideas, and evaluating the pros and cons, the constraints, and the workability. 

Steps of Design Thinking for Business Innovation

Design thinking is not one-sided, nor is it linear. Design thinking can be called an iterative approach, especially when discussing business innovation because it requires constant checks and amendments. In such a situation, it becomes necessary to highlight certain steps that must be followed for the process. Broadly, the steps can be categorized into three major divisions – motivation, ideation, and execution. However, a further detailed categorization proves more useful. 

Discovering a problem

The first step towards any business innovation is, without a doubt, discovering a problem, a potential target that the business shall cater to, or the section of end-users it will serve. Without this crucial step of discovery and realization, any business innovation would be aimless, and design thinking would do no good at all.

Understanding the situation

Now that one has a somewhat thorough understanding of what, who, and why they wish to cater their business towards, design thinking takes the lead role. The first step in the design thinking approach begins with understanding the situation. As mentioned before, design thinking is not the same as conventional commercial thinking in that the course of action is more important than the problem itself. This requires a clear understanding of the situation at hand, for only then can any innovation creep out.

Observation and analysis

Once the basic study is done, one must start looking out for more. Be it patterns or statistics, insights or data, the one innovating for a business must keep himself well-informed about the market and the customer. Design thinking involves a proper study before getting down into the process hands-on.

Framing opportunities

Framing one’s POV is a very important step in design thinking. This, however, needs the accompaniment of two equally important aspects – assumptions, questions, and scope definitions. 


The process doesn’t stop at framing only; reframing, incubating, and meditating on one’s thoughts and analysis, all these are crucial parts of design thinking. After all, the greater the number of permutations-combinations realized and mentally worked upon, the lesser the burden of responsibility on the business enthusiast.


The work must then proceed forward from study and analysis to ideating and problem-solving. The design thinking process for business innovation takes an interesting turn when one begins to dwell on their ideas with constant experimentation and explorations. Teamwork comes into an intriguing play here, for the corrections and alterations to a single idea by multiple minds can truly render it successful and worthier.


One very important aspect of design thinking for a business is prototyping. When the time is right, that is after one has spent enough time putting on the thinking cap, evaluating and re-evaluating their ideas, and analyzing options, it is highly recommended that they shape their ideas into reality. This can be effectively done with the creation of a prototype, which gives one dual opportunity – being able to test how a particular idea will work out in real life, as well as not risk one’s business too much, for it is just a sample to test on. The prime motive would be the validation of the innovation before launching it into the mainstream.

Final testing and launch

A successful prototype can be translated into a successful business innovation in no time at all. This is the time for final approval and launch, and one can expect to determine the true value of one’s innovation in terms of feedback by end-users, popularity among the masses, and acceptance of the innovation

The difference it creates

When someone is fascinated with business innovation, they usually spend hours alone thinking about it. The solution and action are more crucial to a design-oriented attitude. Hence, business innovation occurs when an individual creates a creative solution for a common problem instead of a common answer for an uncommon problem.

The innovation must be human-centered. This indicates that the solution should be created around customers’ emotions, wants, and reactions without compromising technically or economics. Design-based thinking for business is the only way to do this. Analytical design methods like SWOT or SCBA (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) are effective (Social Cost Benefit Analysis).

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Advocate Rahul Dev is a Patent Attorney & International Business Lawyer practicing Technology, Intellectual Property & Corporate Laws. He is reachable at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com & @rdpatentlawyer on Twitter.

Quoted in and contributed to 50+ national & international publications (Bloomberg, FirstPost, SwissInfo, Outlook Money, Yahoo News, Times of India, Economic Times, Business Standard, Quartz, Global Legal Post, International Bar Association, LawAsia, BioSpectrum Asia, Digital News Asia, e27, Leaders Speak, Entrepreneur India, VCCircle, AutoTech).

Regularly invited to speak at international & national platforms (conferences, TV channels, seminars, corporate trainings, government workshops) on technology, patents, business strategy, legal developments, leadership & management.

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