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C-Suite executives are arguably the captains of the company ship. They serve as the guiding leaders, responsible for steering that ship, keeping it off the rocks, and determining where and how it gets to its destination. But how do they do it?

While they use a variety of tools to accomplish this, the C-Suite superheroes in arguably some of the most successful and innovative companies in the world, like Apple and IBM, use a methodology called design thinking to elevate their business. According to Harvard Business Review, 87 percent of companies using design thinking report increased innovation. It’s their secret formula for success and you can use it too.

So, what the heck is design thinking?

Design thinking is not your run-of-the-mill problem-solving approach; it’s the rockstar of creativity, collaboration, and making a real impact. It’s about understanding challenges your users from every angle, bringing people together, and embracing a mindset that says, “Yeah, let’s try something crazy and learn from it!” And you can use it to tackle any kind of business problem or explore any kind of opportunity in the market, both for customers and your employees.

Principles of Design Thinking

Now, like Sherlock Holmes solving a case, let’s break down the mystery that is design thinking and talk through some core principles:

01.

Empathy

It’s like stepping into your end-users’ shoes, feeling what they feel. It’s a deep connection, like when you get emotional watching those dog rescue videos. It’s more than just asking your users what they want. It’s about understanding how your users are feeling and sharing in the frustration their problems are causing which helps you stay committed to being the hero that solves it for them.

02.

Ideation

This is where the brainstorming party happens. How do you solve your users’ problems? What do users need to make tasks—or just their lives in general—easier? No idea is too wild. Anything could be the solution and maybe even the next big thing.

03.

Prototyping

Want a low-cost, low-risk sneak peek? That’s a prototype and in design thinking you make a lot of them. Test it, refine it, test it again until you’re satisfied. Make it as awesome as you can before you sink a heavier investment in the real deal.

04.

Testing

Time to unleash your creation into the real world and see what users think and how they behave. You can test repeatedly until you feel you have it right. Think of it like Lebron taking practice shots before the game. You get to warm up, see what’s working and what isn’t and make adjustments so when it’s game time you are ready to win.

How the C-Suite Implements Design Thinking

Now, let’s look at how the C-Suite can use design thinking to elevate their business:

01.

CIOs

They’re the tech wizards. Design thinking helps them understand users, fix system headaches, and create tech solutions that are not just efficient and user-friendly, but that users love to use. Want a real-world example? Think Apple and the first iPhone—a perfect blend of style and function that users are still drooling over 20 years later.

02.

CFOs

The financial masterminds. Design thinking helps CFOs dive into stakeholders’ minds, find money-making opportunities, and find ways to reduce costs and optimize return on investment. Interaction Design.org reports an 86 percent higher return on investment for companies using design thinking than those who do not.

03.

COOs

The operational gurus. Design thinking streamlines operations, improves workflows, and can increase cross-specialty collaboration. In fact, according to Forbes, teams using design thinking show a 67 percent increase on collaboration and communication, which can have a major impact on the creativity and efficiency of your business.

04.

CMOs

The heralds of your brand. Design thinking digs deep into customer needs, crafting campaigns and products that hit home. It can be the secret sauce for brand loyalty.

05.

CHROs

The heart of your business. Design thinking can help you create a workplace utopia by understanding employee needs and co-creating solutions that work for employees when they need them. It’s the key to a happy and inclusive office.

Strategies for Innovation and Growth Using Design Thinking

And now, the grand finale—strategies for innovation and growth. Even if you’re not in the C-Suite, you can be a hero for your company by using design thinking in your area of influence. Consider how you could use design thinking to influence the following aspects of your business:

01.

Product Design and Development

Go from making products users can use to making products they love and can’t live without. Design thinking brings your users front-and-center, focusing your product development on solving their problems resulting in better products and happier users.

02.

Problem and Goal Redefinition

Too often, business defines problems and goals based on their needs and desires, not the needs and desires of their users. This is at best a hit-and-miss path to success. Design thinking helps you redefine problems and goals based on how they benefit the user. When you make the user the hero of the story, you’re much more likely to see a happy conclusion for everyone (except your competitors, of course).

03.

Fostering Creativity

You never know when the next big idea will come or what it will be. In the brainstorming phase of design thinking, no idea is too crazy; nothing is off-limits. Even the weirdest ideas get to be considered. Allowing and encouraging this kind of creativity not only means getting more and better ideas but can provide a creative infusion to your work culture that employees love.

04.

Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. Design thinking brings together your company’s best cross-functional experts to tackle your users’ problems. It’s like having your own personal team of Avengers, just without the radioactive spider bites and such.

05.

Adaptability and Agility

In an ever changing corporate and technology landscape, adaptability is your superpower. Design thinking allows you to be flexible and ready for what is coming. Unsure about new technology? Start designing and testing before you invest. User preferences changing? Dig into some user research and start brainstorming. Design thinking helps you focus your investment on the things that matter most to your users and are therefore most likely to bring you success.

So, in the epic saga of business, design thinking is your superhero sidekick. It empowers C-Suite—and not so C-Suite—legends to lead innovation in their companies with agility and a heart full of empathy for their users. Whether you’re a startup or a corporate titan, you can unleash design thinking in your business, and watch it soar to new heights.

Let Us Help

Interested to see how Veracity can help you implement design thinking strategies like a pro? Connect with our team of design thinking experts.