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Business Design Thinking

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Design thinking is a business practice that takes a meta-analytical approach at problem solving and organizational optimization. The concept of design is most often associated with artistic or creative endeavors, but with business design thinking,
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   Business Design Thinking David G. Rusin, Ph. D Rochester Institute of Technology Design thinking is a business practice that takes a meta-analytical approach at problem solving and organizational optimization. The concept of design is most often associated with artistic or creative endeavors, but with business design thinking, design is applied toward organizations in order to facilitate operational improvements. Design thinking is an ongoing process and is action-oriented. It is a dynamic approach that is constantly analyzing, questioning and modifying in order to recognize problems and create innovative solutions. Ultimately, business design thinking is about making organizations better through careful examination, creative deliberation and skillful execution (Brown 2008). In this paper we will explore business design thinking in depth. The different steps of design thinking will be analyzed and explained, and the overall design process will be mapped out so it can be more easily understood. We will then examine the ways in which design thinking can be effectively applied in   business organizations, and will explore different examples of how business design is accomplished given multiple objectives. Finally, the benefits of design thinking from a practical and strategic perspective will be compared against the costs of implementing a business design strategy, and recommendations about when to utilize design thinking can be given. The first step of design thinking is to define the problem. Observation is necessary to design thinking because carefully observing the situation often reveals facts and data that differ substantially from existing conclusions or preconceived notions. In any organization there is an inherent bias toward existing ways of doing business, and certain operational processes will inevitably be taken for granted (Martin 2009). Long-held assumptions will go unquestioned and unexamined, with the result that organizations often have dysfunctional processes that are deep-seated which go undiagnosed for years simply because no one ever bothered to question them. When observing with a design thinking frame of mind, the goal is to identify issues which have previously gone unquestioned and then to question everything about them. In this regard, the practice of design thinking is very much like being an overly-inquisitive child who can’t stop asking why. The business design consultant must question everything that he or   she sees as being a potential design issue, either negative or positive. There must be a firm understanding of and a rationale for every process in which the organization is engaged. If the organization cannot explain why it performs its processes in the manner it does, the order it does and in the given time frame it does, that is a clear sign that the business design consultant is on the right track, and that the matter needs further investigation (Beckman & Barry 2007). Observation must occur with the defined problem in mind. For example, if increased efficiency is the goal, then observation must be especially honed in on areas of the existing processes which are in any way inefficient. The design approach is specifically undertaking this observation from the perspective of a blank slate. This means that every process must be justified for itself anew. As the business design consultant works his or her way through existing processes, each step must stand on its own merits and be analyzed for efficiency. Design will also take into consideration a creative approach toward identifying steps in the process which might be modified, combined or eliminated in order to improve efficiency. The ultimate goal of this first stage is to come away from the observation period with a firm understanding of the problems and their definitions (Brown & Wyatt 2010).   The second stage of business design thinking is the creation and consideration of options which will be applied to the design problems identified in the first step. This stage is perhaps the most unique of the design process, and is what sets design thinking apart from other business strategies. This second stage emphasizes creativity and outside the box thinking in a big way, and it is this practice of taking truly novel and creative approaches toward problem solving that makes design thinking so effective. Without considering a wide range of options (many of which have never previously been considered) the design thinking approach loses the heart of its essence (Dunne & Martin, 2006). The design approach is at its best when numerous solutions are being created and considered even for the most simple and trivial problems identified in step one. It is only through this sort of comprehensive, exhaustive approach that leaves no stone unturned that the best ideas can eventually emerge. Part of the creative process in this stage is questioning even the solutions presented as they emerge. The tendency to solve problems in well-worn methodologies is always present, and for this reason design thinkers must not only take a creative approach toward problem solving, but must take a creative approach toward creating solutions to those problems. In other   words, design thinkers must be careful not to fall into the trap of applying the same answers to similar problems every time. Small differences can add up to create large ones, so every tiny detail must be analyzed in order to create solutions which are truly unique and tailored to the situation and organization at hand. Obvious design solutions will of course present themselves first, but the temptation to apply an obvious solution to an obvious problem should be ignored. The greatest successes of design thinking occur when a simple problem with a seemingly obvious solution is revealed to have not been such a simple problem at all. Misidentification of problems can lead to erroneous solutions, and insufficient deliberation and creative application can lead to solutions which do not fit the existing problem. The combination of accurate diagnosis and exhaustive creative deliberation lies at the heart of the second stage of the business design thinking process. The third stage of business design thinking is refining the solutions presented in stage two. The refining process is where the ideas generated previously are streamlined and put into working order. The refining stage is crucial because it is where the ideas come together into a coherent whole that is applicable to the entire organization. Refining the choice of direction is

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Apr 1, 2019
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