Blog Post - Dejan Popovic, Jul 31 2017

'Design Thinking' and the untapped power of innovation

'Design Thinking' and the untapped power of innovation

The principles of Design Thinking within modern development methods are used frequently and to good effect. What’s less well known is their origins and just why they are so effective. Is there anything we can learn from the original Design Thinking principles?

Ecommerce and associated technical innovations are developing at a rapid pace, resulting in an increasing number of development methods entering the market. With innumerable new development methods, it is difficult for organisations to choose the right approach – which approach will generate profit, or cost a lot of money? Which method will generate lasting value for your business, or which is just a temporary measure? This article will explore the benefits of using the ‘Design Thinking’ method.

The Origin

The Design Thinking development method was developed in the late 1960s in the ‘Industrial Design’ environment, and has proven itself as valuable for organisations in the last few years. Today’s development methods, for example User Center Design and Iterative Development, are based on basic principles of the Design Thinking method.

Introducing design thinking

Design Thinking is described as ‘a problem solving approach whereby you can immerse yourself in the problems of the user, and come to a proper solution with a dedicated team of experts’. The Design Thinking process can be categorised into three phases:

  • Understanding
  • Investigation
  • Creation

These phases can be broken down into six steps:

  1. Empathy: The problem is reviewed by diving into the experiences of the daily users.
  2. Defining: The findings of the steps taken before will be analysed and combined until a pattern is created.
  3. Solution Thinking: In this step, no restrictions are taken into account. Only the best and existing solutions are collected and are further expanded with new ideas until the best result is achieved.
  4. Prototyping: Making your solutions as tangible (with as little effort) as possible so that the end user can start testing in an early stadium of the project.
  5. Testing: By using the users feedback of the steps before the testing is ongoing until the preferred result has been reached.
  6. Implementation: If all steps been completed successfully, the goal of Design Thinking is achieved and you can start to implement.

Although today’s modern development methods are based on Design Thinking principles, the innovation aspect is still somewhat lacking. A majority of the time, brainstorming stops when a solid and existing method is found – however, using an existing solution is not always a guarantee of a success, nor is it recommended to use a competitor’s seemingly successful solution. For example, you can easily run into trouble when you follow a competitor’s solution blindly and only find out afterwards that other competitors had already found a better solution some time ago.

By simply copying a competitor’s seemingly successful solution and following the advice of third parties claiming to know everything, you will be left with a mediocre end result.

follow your own approach and innovate

Following your own approach based on the knowledge and expectations of your customers, performed and verified with your own resources, would be more beneficial to your business.

The special relationship between an organisation, the product and the customer will automatically lead to one specific, innovative solution that will suit the needs and expectations of the user. Only by being innovative is it possible to distinguish yourself from your competitors and stay ahead. Each customer is unique, so even the smallest solutions in your relationship with the customer must be innovative. Listening to your customer’s needs is, therefore, key. If you succeed in this, you will have the benefit of the Design Thinking method.

So, dare to have confidence in your own organisation and in your employees – they have the knowledge to customise unique solutions for your customers. A customisable solution will always have a distinctive factor that is characteristic for the bond between the seller and the end user. The existing solutions of your competitors should only be used as a guideline and inspirational tool.


By listening to the needs and wishes of your customer and having faith in your organisation, you will provide room for innovation and creativity. In short, being innovative in all areas of problem solving will ensure you distinguish yourself from your competitors and stay ahead. Ultimately, you will be successful with Design Thinking.


Gibbons, S. (2016, July 31). Design Thinking 101. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

Plaisier, W. (2015, June 26). Hoe design thinking je helpt bij het oplossen van complexe problemen. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

Tischler, L. (2009, January 2). Ideo's David kelly on "Design Thinking". Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Design Thinking. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from