Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation the success rate for innovation dramatically improves.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients.

Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused, and action oriented. It involves both analysis and imagination.

“Design is the action of bringing something new and desired into existence—a proactive stance that resolves or dissolves problematic situations by design. It is a compound of routine, adaptive and design expertise brought to bear on complex dynamic situations.” —Harold Nelson

What are the distinguishing characteristics of Design Thinking?

  • Finding simplicity in complexity
  • Beauty as well as functionality
  • Improving quality of experience
  • Creating elegant solutions
  • Serving the needs of people

Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation

When design principles are applied to strategy and innovation the success rate for innovation dramatically improves. Design thinking is at the core of effective strategy development and organizational change. Design can be applied to products, services, processes, physical locations… anything that needs to be optimized for human interaction. You can design the way you lead, manage, create and innovate.


This model synthesizes classic creative problem-solving modalities with principles and practices of art and design. 

Innovation is a discipline that can be managed.

You can approach the practice of innovation (creating new products, services, and customer experiences) with a set of practical and rigorous methods, tools, and frameworks.

Develop Design Thinking capabilities in your organization

While learning to be a good designer takes years, non-designers can learn to think like a designer and apply these skills to leadership and innovation. Hands-on innovation challenges will guide you through a design thinking process from start to finish.

  • Develop the 5 discovery skills that make up the Innovator’s DNA and optimize your ability to innovate
  • Examine the four primary forces that shape innovation and 10 types of innovation you can leverage
  • How to connect more deeply with customers to uncover opportunities for innovation
  • Transform insights and data into actionable ideas
  • Explore the tool-sets and skill-sets used by designers: empathy for your customers, idea generation, critical thinking, aesthetic ways of knowing, problem-solving, rapid-prototyping and collaboration.
  • Develop a wide variety of concepts for  products, services, experiences, messages, channels, business models, or strategies.
  • Create and implement elegant solutions that create value for your customers, faster and more effectively.

Linda Naiman has facilitated design-thinking strategies for innovation for financial services organizations, software companies, industries, and  government organizations.

Find out how design thinking consulting, training, or workshops can help you achieve innovation success. Contact us today.

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