The role of design thinking in strategy

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Design thinking has become increasingly essential in developing a successful business strategy. As someone who works closely with business owners, I understand the need for a comprehensive approach that considers all aspects of a company’s operations. Design thinking provides a unique perspective that focuses on human-centred solutions and creativity, which can lead to innovation and a competitive edge in today’s marketplace.

In this blog, I will explore the role of design thinking in strategy. I will begin by discussing the core principles of design thinking and its history. Then we will delve into its various applications in product development, business model innovation, customer experience and service design, and organisational strategy. Finally, I will provide practical steps to integrate design thinking into your company’s strategy and highlight some of the benefits of doing so.

Understanding design thinking

Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that puts human needs and experiences at the forefront of the design process. It is a multidisciplinary process that involves empathy, experimentation, and iteration to arrive at innovative solutions. The origins of design thinking started in the 1960s and 1970s when designers began to apply their creative skills to business and organisational challenges.

The core principles of design thinking include empathy, defining the problem, ideation, prototyping, and testing. Empathy involves understanding the needs and experiences of the end-users and defining the problem statement in a specific, actionable, and relevant way. Ideation involves generating a broad range of ideas, and prototyping involves creating low-fidelity models or mock-ups of potential solutions. Finally, testing involves evaluating these prototypes and refining the design until a viable solution is arrived at.

Applying design thinking to strategy

Design thinking is a powerful problem-solving approach that business leaders can apply to various aspects of a company’s strategy. By focusing on the needs and preferences of customers, leaders can drive innovation and growth. Here are some ways that this approach can be applied:


Businesses can use design thinking principles to break down complex challenges into manageable components and identify underlying causes.

Product development and innovation

Applying design thinking principles to develop new products and services can help businesses create solutions that better meet the needs of their target customers.

Business model innovation

Organisations can leverage design thinking to create new business models that are more effective and efficient, leading to increased profitability and growth.

Customer experience and service design

Design thinking can help businesses create more personalised and engaging customer experiences, improving satisfaction and loyalty.

Organisational strategy

By applying design thinking principles to their overall strategy, businesses can create a more agile and adaptable organisation that can respond quickly to changes in the marketplace.

Incorporating design thinking into a company’s strategy can lead to customer-focused innovation and growth. By applying design thinking principles to various aspects of their strategy, businesses can create a competitive advantage and achieve their goals.

Integrating design thinking into your organisation’s strategy

Integrating design thinking into an organisation’s strategy can be a transformative process that can lead to improved outcomes. Here are some steps to integrating design thinking into your organisation’s strategy:

Define the problem

Start by identifying the business challenge you want to solve through design thinking. This could be a product or service that needs improvement, a process that needs streamlining, or a new market opportunity.

Empathise with your customers

Understand your customers’ needs, wants, and preferences through research and direct engagement. This step is critical to ensuring your solutions are customer-focused and meet their needs.

Ideate and prototype

Once you understand your customers’ needs, generate various ideas and create prototypes to test and refine potential solutions. This iterative process helps to ensure that your solutions are effective and feasible.

Test and implement

Evaluate the effectiveness of your prototype through user feedback and implement the most promising solution. This step involves testing your solution in the real world and making necessary adjustments based on feedback.

Foster a culture of design thinking

Encourage a mindset of innovation, collaboration, and experimentation within your organisation. This involves creating an environment where employees are encouraged to share ideas, experiment with new approaches, and take calculated risks.

Overcoming obstacles to integrating design thinking can be challenging, but with a commitment to the process, it is possible to overcome these hurdles. Some common obstacles include a lack of understanding or buy-in from senior leadership, a lack of resources or expertise, and resistance to change.

Integrating design thinking into your organisation’s strategy can help you create more customer-focused and innovative solutions that drive growth and success. By following the steps outlined above and fostering a culture of design thinking, you can position your organisation for long-term success.

Benefits of design thinking in strategy

The benefits of incorporating design thinking into an organisation’s strategy are numerous. Here are some key advantages:

Improved customer experience and satisfaction

Design thinking helps organisations better understand customers’ needs and preferences, leading to more customer-focused solutions. This can improve customer experience and satisfaction, increasing loyalty and repeat business.

Increased innovation and competitiveness

Design thinking encourages creativity and experimentation, leading to more innovative solutions. This can help organisations stay ahead of the competition by creating new products or services that meet emerging customer needs.

Better alignment of strategy with customer needs

By focusing on customer needs and preferences, design thinking helps organisations ensure their strategy aligns with customers’ wants. This can lead to more effective and targeted solutions that drive business growth.

Enhanced creativity and collaboration

Design thinking involves a collaborative approach that encourages employees from different departments to collaborate and share ideas. This can lead to enhanced creativity and a more innovative organisational culture.

Greater agility and flexibility in responding to market changes

Design thinking encourages organisations to be more agile and flexible in responding to changing market conditions. By fostering a culture of experimentation and innovation, organisations can quickly adapt to new market realities and stay ahead of the curve.


Design thinking has become a powerful tool for businesses to tackle complex problems and drive innovation. Yet, many organisations are still unaware of its potential benefits. By integrating design thinking into your strategy, your business can improve customer satisfaction, increase profitability, and differentiate itself from competitors.

Design thinking can help your business identify customer pain points and develop innovative solutions that set you apart in the market. It also fosters a culture of creativity and innovation within your organisation, enabling your team to think outside the box and develop novel solutions to business challenges.

To get started with design thinking, it’s essential to understand its core principles and how it fits into your business strategy. This could include practical steps such as defining the problem, conducting research, ideating, prototyping, testing, and implementing solutions. By incorporating design thinking into your decision-making processes, your business can achieve tangible results and drive innovation.

Adopting design thinking can benefit your business by improving customer satisfaction, increasing profitability, and fostering a culture of creativity and innovation. By integrating its principles into your strategy and decision-making processes, you can harness the power of design thinking to achieve your business goals.

Transform your business with Resonate’s Strategy Services

At Resonate, we understand the importance of developing a comprehensive and effective business strategy. Our team can help your organisation identify new growth opportunities, develop customer-focused solutions, and create a roadmap for long-term success. We can help you overcome complex challenges and achieve your goals by leveraging design thinking principles and a collaborative approach. Contact us to discuss how our strategy services can benefit your organisation.

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RK is the CEO & Co-Founder of Resonate.

RK is Resonate’s chief strategist, thought leader, and IT industry veteran. Our clients depend on RK to advise on their business strategy, channel strategy, and sales strategy. 

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