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What is Design Thinking?

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Design thinking is an innovative problem-solving approach that focuses on the customer. Organizations use design thinking to pivot when there’s a change and to create the biggest impact. As business leaders continue to see the value in design thinking skills, so do professionals who want to make the greatest impact in their roles.

Graduates of Concordia University Chicago’s online MBA programs gain design thinking skills throughout their coursework and will be equipped to solve difficult business problems. If you’re interested in learning more, read on to learn about the design thinking process, examples of industries that leverage design thinking and why gaining these skills matters. 

What is the Design Thinking Process? 

Generally, design thinking is a five-step process that doesn’t have to be linear. The five steps are: 

  1. Empathize: The human-centered design process requires empathy to set aside your thoughts and feelings and dig deep into customers and their needs. This step asks you to research these needs to gain a better understanding. 
  2. Define: State the specific problem your product or service is going to solve for the customer.  
  3. Ideate: Brainstorm different ideas that help the customer solve the problem. No idea is a bad idea at this stage. Innovation is necessary in this part of the process because the goal is to create alternative ways to view the problem and think of new ways to solve it.  
  4. Prototype: Begin to create solutions to the problem with different prototypes. The goal is to identify the best possible solution to every problem found. 
  5. Test: Products and services need to be rigorously tested before final production. This stage allows you to trial the prototypes, find more problems your customer may have, and go back to prior steps if necessary.    

Moving back and forth between these steps allows you to have the deepest understanding of the customer and what their ideal solution or product can be. As you can see, there are plenty of roles that leverage the design thinking process to achieve goals and satisfy the customer. 

Roles and Industries That Leverage Design Thinking

Design thinking roles were once pigeonholed into actual design-heavy jobs, such as user experience (UX) designer and product designer. As the definition of design thinking has evolved so have the industries that leverage this process such as finance, healthcare and marketing. 

Finance 

In a technology-driven world, the finance industry is increasingly in need of effective business decision support. For many traditionally trained accounting and finance professionals, thinking “outside the box” can be difficult due to the amount of individual compliance-focused tasks that need to be done. Design thinking helps finance professionals identify the customer clearly and approach their needs with empathy. It also helps create a collaborative mindset able to clearly define a goal in a project-orientated environment.

Healthcare

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Applying Design Thinking to health care could enhance innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness by increasing focus on patient and provider needs.” Since healthcare professionals tend to already possess empathy for patients, design thinking simply fits into the daily tasks whether they are performed in a clinic, hospital, or other facility. For example, design thinking is used throughout the healthcare industry to improve hygiene, diagnosis and the effectiveness of medication.

Marketing 

Marketers shouldn’t solely rely on instinct, past experiences, or the latest trends to build their marketing strategies. This is where design thinking skills can help marketers achieve strategic business goals by asking a lot of questions and thinking from the customer’s point of view. This way you can create a campaign focused on what the potential consumer wants, rather than what the company thinks they should focus on.

Aside from these industries, design thinking has also been used successfully in technology, entertainment, education, space exploration, and more. As leaders increasingly witness the value of this process, they’ll continue to seek out employees who possess design thinking skills.

Learning That Incorporates Design Thinking 

In Concordia University Chicago’s online MBA programs, graduates are equipped to apply design thinking to their organizations to solve problems and make efficient decisions. Better yet, our fully online programs allow professionals to earn their graduate business degree from home without major disruption to their work-life balance. 

Aside from the general MBA degree program, Concordia-Chicago offers the following specializations to fit your needs: 

To learn more about design thinking and Concordia University Chicago’s MBA programs, visit our overview page.

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