Does Design Thinking Really Work?

13 October, 2019

Now that you know more about the Design Thinking Methodology, you may be asking yourself, “does Design Thinking really work?"

For companies who produce consumer goods, Design Thinking would make sense. After all, it’s more likely than not that they already utilize the Design Thinking methodology.

However, for companies in other industries such as healthcare, finance, or even the tech sector, the idea of applying Design Thinking may be difficult to grasp at first. For example, people who work in those industries may wonder, does Design Thinking really work in their particular sector

Actually, there are actually a number of different companies in non-design sectors that have utilized Design Thinking and have achieved success.

Healthcare: Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic’s foray into Design Thinking started with a question by one of its physicians, Dr. Nicholas LaRusso. He wanted to know if it were possible to improve the way care is provided to the patients. By utilizing new technology as well as new diagnostic tests, he figured that there must be some way to use these innovations to help patients.

So, what started out as a lab where a mixture of physicians and designers collaborated to test a patient-centric system, grew into Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation.

The Center creates various prototypes and tests healthcare delivery solutions for patients by observing, interviewing, and researching interactions between patients and care providers, as well as the patients’ families.

With their research, the Clinic was able to make their buildings and spaces less clinical and more inviting.

The Mayo Clinic Building in Phoenix was designed with Design Thinking in mind. The building itself has larger consultation rooms where friends and families of patients can be present to lend patients their support. Their check-in desks are designed so that patients would not have to stand in line.

This is all done with the aim to improve patients’ experience in what would already be a difficult journey. And it also allows the Clinic to build a relationship with the patients and their families.

Banking: ABN AMRO Bank

ABN AMRO’s approach to Design Thinking is to set up their very own Innovation Centre in order to train their employees to utilize the methodology.

Listening to customers’ experiences and their needs and utilizing Design Thinking have helped ABN AMRO to come up with solutions that utilize the latest technology that are beneficial to their customers.

For every project, the team members use personas to roleplay scenarios that their clients may go through. This lets them feel every “pain” that the customer may encounter and helps the team brainstorm ideas that will solve each problem that may come up.

With the implementation of Design Thinking, ABN AMRO has a competitive advantage in the banking sector and is seen as a leader in terms of the application of the methodology in the banking sector.

Government: Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower

Singapore’s government has utilized Design Thinking for a number of projects. However, their very first venture had to do with the Ministry of Manpower. Specifically, with its Work Pass Division. Applying for the employment pass for foreign workers was gruelling and convoluted process. There were 13 steps in total with a long wait time at the end.

However, working with a consulting firm, the division was able to look at the process in the point of view of the user, instead of seeing as just a series of processes. As a result, the customer journey was mapped out and re-designed. Then, they listened to what the users wanted: creating a waiting area that was more welcoming, with officers on standby to answer any questions, and most importantly: an appointment-based service.

The waiting time during the appointment also improved, with users served within 10-15 minutes, which was a drastic improvement from 2002’s waiting time of 2 hours.

Does Design Thinking Really Work?

So, to go back to the initial question of “does Design Thinking really work,” we can see that it's really quite straightforward: Yes, it does. Because a customer-centric approach can give a company competitive advantage. And that type of advantage, especially in a competitive market, can be just the thing to turn the tides in your company’s favor.

From the Tech sector to Banking, Design Thinking can help companies come up with innovative solutions that will retain existing customers and can entice new ones.

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