What is Design Thinking?

A short overview of what Design Thinking is and how it relates to other forms of thinking.


2 minute read

What is Design Thinking?


There are three main types of thinking which professionals use in commercial world.

I will go over all three of them and describe core aspects of what makes them what they are.

The purpose of this article is to outline why Design Thinking is becoming the main competitive advantage in business.

System Thinking

Engineers like to use System Thinking to think through complex situations.

System Thinking involves breaking complexity into modules or components.

Each module ought to have a single function to it.

Modules can link up to form more complex chains of functionality.

Each module is swappable or upgradeable at any point, making it possible to update the systems in precise ways.

Different people can work on different modules, without worrying so much about how the bigger system works.

Many of the complex engineering projects are possible only because of System Thinking.

Much of System Thinking concerns itself with inputs and outputs.

Business Thinking

Business Thinking focuses on how to optimise profits within a business system.

Much of Management Science focuses on people and systems and applying them to make larger profits.

In Business Thinking people are often considered as consumers.

Business Thinking creates different business models and ways to make money from 'consumers'.

Consumers exist as a part of the system of doing business.

In Business Thinking everything focuses around maximising profits.

Business try to compete through making the most competitive system for extracting value out of people.

Much of Business Thinking focuses on reduction of costs and optimisation.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is fast becoming the most preferred way to think in any company.

Why is this?

Design Thinking starts to look at people as humans, with emotions, complex needs and objectives.

Design Thinking builds on top of System Thinking and Business Thinking.

Design Thinking bakes in this focus on humans at the forefront of everything.

Reason for this is that in Design Thinking ensuring long term human prosperity produces good business.

Design of systems ought to follow human needs and aspirations first.

Since Design Thinking incorporates Business Thinking, designers ensure that their solutions make money too.

Typical Business Thinking person will think about improving businesses by 10-20%.

Typical Design Thinker will think about how to improve a business by 10-20 times!

Businesses are starting to see and understand these results and want more Design Thinkers on board.


Design Thinking is an evolution of previous business thinking practices.

It builds on those aspect which work well and incorporates the idea of humanising businesses.

Design Thinking approach can regularly yield improvements of 100%+ across any given business KPI (Key Performance Indicator).

Published on: 02 Aug 2016

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