‘Design’, in today’s age and time, is not limited to aesthetics and its application to products in general. Its application has rather crossed boundaries and its importance has been rightly recognized in fields anew. In that light, ‘Design thinking’ refers to the creative strategies applied in the process of designing. Its role has stretched out to practical aspects of resolving problems or put in more positive light – creating solutions! With some more far-sightedness, it has the potential of creating problem-free spaces too.
Overtime, how the implementation of ‘Design’ from ‘fabrics’ reached out to the fabrics of organizations, is a transition story moulded by true geniuses and innovative minds while treading the path of design thinking.
There is a burst of organizations around us – companies and firms – big and small. And some is waiting to take a shape – start-ups. They are struggling to survive in these fierce times of severe competition. However, it is not merely survival of the fittest, but also of the smartest.
In the contest of providing new, better products and service, the organizations sometimes tend to ignore the very core aspect - the resource lying in their very own person, which constitutes that organization, its environment and its culture. Design thinking makes one realize its significance like never before.
Design thinking brings ‘organisation’ to any organization. It brings discipline. However, often people commit the blunder of applying ‘design’ as an after-thought and treat it like a celebrity chief guest at an occasion who will visit, look pretty and leave even sooner. Design thinking is a continuous process and works best if it is applied from the inception of any business idea. It is rather abusive if its application stops at one milestone. And if it does, then the earlier processes and brainstorming done with design thinking are also rendered futile.
Design thinking can work wonders when it is imbibed in any organization as its culture. Often issues such as job attrition, intra-office rivalries, incompatible teams, work ethics, etc. are overlooked to take care of more economic issues. However, the cost which a company pays for it could be far greater than anticipated. Application of design thinking can take care of these issues in an organization to achieve a healthy work environment and better output.
Design thinking is not only about marketing after your venture when it is ready. It is also not touching-up of your newly rented or acquired office space. It is not restricted to the design of products offers or the graphics of the newly programmes software. It is how about you plan your business from the scratch. A design is to know your strengths and to study your weaknesses. It is about intelligent decisions relevant to your needs. It is also about being receptive to change.
It covers broader aspects such as how much to invest; (whether or not) acquiring an office space and if yes, where; how to hire people; whom to hire, how to reach out to potential clients; etc. For example, it may be difficult for a small, less popular IT company to attract employees from say an IIT and hence it may work well for them to recruit best brains from a not so well known institute. A wise man once said that it's wiser to choose the diligent one over the intelligent one. Once successful, the same strategy could change too. Hence, design thinking is an organic process which evolves and grows with time and changing business scenarios.
Few instances how design thinking changed the course of decision making:
1. Sometimes hiring people can become a challenge when their resumes either narrate incomplete stories or are exaggerated. It is difficult to assess their real talent unless you see them work and thus, an innovative method could be adopting the policy of selecting/spotting talent from workshops and seminar where one can see people perform.
2. Knowledge management in many companies becomes a difficult issue to manage, especially when employees cooperate less. To manage resource the pool better, one can consider the practice of observing a ‘computer exchange’ day every month, whereby every employee uses one of their colleagues’ computer for a day to understand how they sort files, store-save information, etc. This method can bring a huge difference in building empathy towards the knowledge management program.
3. Many times, small organizations face the difficulty where employees shy away from taking new responsibilities in situations where role allocation is not very strict. Thus, few tasks are left out without a master. To tackle this, a noted organisation started to appoint one person from the team as an Anchor for a month, who would be responsible for overseeing all the work in a given month, so much so that every task which is unassigned belongs to him/her and anything going wrong is also his/her personal responsibility for which they will be liable. This method has helped them take care of the unwatered pots well.
Design thinking is not for future only. It is for the present. It is not a means to an end. It's not the end either. It is like your daily meal. If applied insightfully, it can act as an integrative force for an organization. Thus, design thinking is an addictive experience and every business is incomplete without it. It is the journey you take, deciding where to go, with whom and how. It can inspire the bosses to become more empathetic and encourage them to follow the policies that work out best for all who are associated with it. It should be interwoven into the fabric of a company and not applied as patchwork!
Shuchi Gangwal is the Owner & Principal Designer at Kypsa, a Mumbai based innovation & activation design studio.
Note: Views expressed are the author's own.