What Are the Benefits of Design Thinking?

Robert S. Poulin
by Robert S. Poulin
President

Last Updated: August 15, 2019

Part Three of a Multi-part Series on Design Thinking & Innovation

ASAE 2- Design Thinking Overview 2In Part Two of our Design Thinking series, we reviewed the Design Thinking Methodology and how its five-step process works. Here we will discuss the benefits of using design thinking and how its agility saves organizations on development costs in the long run.

Design thinking has been called a methodology, a culture, and a philosophy. Ultimately, its power is in recognizing that design shouldn’t be strictly about beauty in form, but should achieve functional purpose to meet business goals.

The framework of the design thinking methodology provides many benefits. For organization of all types, design thinking can refine overall strategy by identifying and investigating the most pressing organizational issues. Through the methodology, many organizations uncover inefficient practices and are able to streamline business processes and maximize productivity. Being able to identify issues, ideate collaboratively, rapidly prototype, incorporate user feedback and refine solutions is what allows design thinking to reduce the cost of transformation in the long run.

The standard digital design/build practice has roughly four stages: Design, Build, Test, Post-Release. The first phase, Design, is generally given the least amount of time and cost to be completed. Working alone, designers are given some background information and told what to create with limited input from the end-users. In the standard model, the further along the process a project is, the more unidirectional and siloed the different stages/departments are. This stifles the possibility for feedback and iterative adjustment during the process.

Projects may be too far along to fail with the amount of resources invested, so the potential for deficiencies to be ignored and a subpar project to be finalized grows as time goes on. By this method, making necessary changes in the later stages risks needing to start the process over again – resulting in higher costs and missed market opportunities.

Read More on Design Thinking

When you consider that the Design phase of the design/build practice is the least costly and least time consuming, it is easy to see why design thinking focuses there. Design thinking allows organizations to collaborate in the most flexible phase. Incorporating more disciplines into the design phase encourages collaboration and improves ideation. By using design thinking to begin a change process with better concepts, organizations save both time and money by requiring fewer costly fixes down the road. 

Read more on Design Thinking and follow our new blog series on how Design Thinking and Design Sprints enable digital transformation as we prepare for the 2019 ASAE Annual Conference this August.