2012 Business weapon of choice: Design Thinking


Design thinking is a growing trend in the business world. I feel that this topic is ready to be incorporated into Comm101, as design thinking skills can essentially be transferred into every subject. Design thinking is not something for students to simply learn and regurgitate – it changes the way a student learns altogether.

Design thinking has proven to produce remarkable results in the market and is extremely cost effective as well. Proctor and Gamble is an excellent example of a global company that facilitates design-thinking workshops across all of its offices around the world. By bringing personnel from a variety of departments they gain a wider prospective and diverse opinions to the workshop. Their workshops are not “educational programs”, but rather problem- solving machines.

In order to encourage employees to engage in design thinking, P & G rewards them for not only what they’ve achieved but “how”.  Things like imagination, inclusiveness, and clear thinking are traits that they award employees by.

As design thinking is progressively becoming more important, it is essential for business school curriculums to adapt to this. Roger Martin, the dean of Rotman, says that business schools are “out of position in the emerging design- based economy.”

“We’re telling students that the big bucks are made by administering linear improvements — getting better and better at doing essentially the same thing,” he says. “But the real challenge lies in getting better and better at a different thing: devising clever solutions to wickedly difficult problems.” –Roger Martin

Companies are also looking for individuals that add value- by providing a new dimension to their multidisciplinary team. Problems in companies nowadays are simply too complicated to handle, for employees who are not well rounded in their creativity and ability to adapt their skills to different situations. Fast-food restaurants are promoting health and wellness, car companies are attempting to forecast new trends in technology, and clothing companies need to be aware of the sustainability of their products and supply chain. Taking all these issues into perspective there is never one solution and companies need to bring together teams that are from diverse disciplines to solve it.

A design-friendly workplace

I believe that in the near future, we can expect to see many more undergraduate or graduate programs that cater to the concept of design thinking – I believe the Sauder D. Studio is just the first step; an essential step.


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