The Importance of Design Thinking

Team working at table

Our workplaces are ever-evolving, gradually shifting to make room for new expectations, ideas and solutions. It is becoming crucial to develop skills to understand and act on these changes. Design Thinking offers a means to handle these adjustments and solve problems in a more human-centric manner. We speak to Elle Bell, Customer Experience, Design Thinking & Agile Coach, on the importance of Design Thinking in the workplace.


What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an iterative process, which involves a deep understanding and empathy for the user to identify innovative solutions to a problem. It involves ongoing experimentation from sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas.

The methodology consists of 5 phases (which are iterative, and not always linear) —

  • Empathise with your users
  • Define your users’ needs, problems, and insights
  • Ideate by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions
  • Prototype to start creating solutions
  • Test your solutions

Design Thinking isn’t rocket science, but it does take courage to start to do things differently and challenge the status quo. Traditional ways of working assume you know what you’re going to do and that it’s going to work. Design Thinking starts with uncertainly and you need to be ok with accepting that many ideas can (and should) fail. But the journey is extremely rewarding – working directly with customers provides insights that will surprise and stimulate teams to collaborate towards new and different solutions.

We must learn to adapt and thrive in this fast-paced environment.

Why is Design Thinking so important?

The Design Thinking process has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. It was key to the success of many high-profile organisations, such as Google, Apple and Air New Zealand. All who have a design-focused approach, which helps to keep their products relevant to their customers and keep their offerings fresh.

Design thinking is key in the workplace because of its ability to generate ground-breaking solutions in a disruptive and innovative way. It is more than just a process. It opens up an entirely new way of thinking and provides methods to help apply this new mindset and work collaboratively to solve problems.

We now live and work in an increasingly complex, changing and uncertain world. We must learn to adapt and thrive in this fast-paced environment. Design Thinking enables us to develop new ways of seeing, understanding and solving our problems.

Tips to get started with Design Thinking 

  • Empathise – Carry out interviews with your customers to understand their context. Gather primary insights about your users needs, problems and goals
  • Define – Map the customer journey and go through it yourself. Look for areas where improvements could be made
  • Ideate – Use the phrase ‘how might we’ to stimulate ideas to solve a problem
  • Prototype – Quickly build your ideas e.g. role play, cardboard model, storyboard
  • Test – Use an easy test framework to establish if the solution is working e.g. Plan, Do, Check, Adapt model

Elle joined us as part of Robert Walters quarterly More Than Tech meet-up. During these meet-ups we hear from expert speakers on topics across the tech field and people from a range of different industries are welcome to attend. Please get in touch to find out more


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