What is Design Thinking? Skills for Leadership Development

What is Design Thinking? Skills for Leadership Development

Design thinking is a concept that has been embraced by many successful companies in a variety of industries. Apple, Moderna, IBM, T-Mobile, Ford, Barclays, and Nike are all examples of organizations that have used design thinking to develop new products and services. Design thinking helps companies to think about the user experience when developing new products and services. This user-centric approach can help to create products and services that are more successful than those developed using traditional methods.

Design thinking has been gaining popularity in recent years as a method for solving problems. If you’re looking to develop design thinking skills to improve your career prospects, here are some things to keep in mind.

First, design thinking is all about coming up with creative solutions to problems. This means that if you’re able to think outside the box, you’ll have a major advantage.

Second, design thinking skills can be beneficial for a variety of professionals, including engineers, marketers, designers, and even business analysts.

Finally, keep in mind that the best way to develop design thinking skills is to practice them as often as possible.

What is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a skill that can be beneficial for any professional. By developing design thinking skills, you can become a more creative problem-solver. This, in turn, can empower you to embrace and facilitate innovation within your organization to effect real, lasting change.

According to Tim Brown, Executive Chair of Ideo – “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Design thinking

Design thinkers always keep the user in mind. They never make assumptions and instead spend a lot of time observing their customers. This helps them to get a better understanding of customer needs. They also brainstorm, prototype, and test their ideas to come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

Design thinking is a process that helps teams arrive at decisions by blending data and an understanding of customers’ needs. This process doesn’t rely on hard data or instinct, but rather on a mix of the two. Anticipating future needs is a key part of design thinking, as it helps teams better understand customers’ underlying problems.

There’s a specific design ability that can be developed and nurtured. However, not everyone is born with this ability. Some people may have to work harder to develop this skill, but it is possible with practice. Its qualities include:

  • Creativity, innovation, and inspiration often come when we think outside the box. This means that product managers need to be flexible in their thinking and be able to approach problems from different angles.
  • Being able to explain your ideas using models, sketches, and stories is a really important skill for professionals & leaders.
Design thinking
  • Designers who are solution-focused propose and try solutions to problems, instead of just dwelling on the problem itself. This allows them to move on from problems more quickly, and find innovative solutions that might have otherwise been overlooked.
  • People often want things to be different from what they are. For example, they may want to focus on how things ought to be instead of how they are. This can lead to a lot of pressure and stress. Instead of worrying about how things should be, try to focus on how things are. This will help you to be more present and less stressed.
  • People often want things to be different from what they are. For example, they may want to focus on how things ought to be instead of how they are.

Why Design Thinking Is Important?

Design thinking is a hot new skill for business leaders. According to Gartner, it is the number one emerging soft skill for executives. Design thinking allows us to see leadership in new ways and provides a good range of practical tools. It is also an ideology that links up well with other leadership development approaches. There are three vital points that help design thinkers to grow –


Being able to take an objective look at problems is a valuable skill for any creative individual. When you can detach yourself from the emotional baggage that might be associated with certain issues, it becomes easier to loosen up and experiment with different potential solutions. This is where true innovation often happens- by thinking outside the box and being open to new and unexplored ideas.

Design thinking

User Experience

The goals of the end user should always be kept in mind by product managers. By understanding what problems, they are looking to solve, you can create user-based solutions that will solve not only their current issues but future ones as well. This level of thoughtfulness and empathy will lead to better products that people will want to keep using.

Team Success

Design thinking teams succeed because they operationalize the idea of “the customer is always right.” They understand that it’s more important to focus on what will help the end user, instead of letting personal preferences get in the way. This open-mindedness allows for a diversity of perspectives that can contribute to finding the best solution.

Top Skills for Developing as a Design Thinking Leader


Empathy is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox, according to Simon Sinek. It’s about caring for the well-being of human beings beyond the business deliverables. Key to understanding your users in design thinking, empathy is essential when it comes to customers or colleagues.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is being able to see how all of the parts of a system connect. This means understanding different aspects of the system and how they work together as well as how delays can affect the system. Leaders who have mastered systems thinking are better equipped to make decisions that take all of these factors into account.

Have you ever had to wait for something and get impatient? Instead of waiting it out, you act to try and speed up the process, but end up making things worse. That’s what happens when you turn on the hot water tap and impatiently turn on more heat. You end up with boiling water and have to adjust the tap furiously to make it cooler. Sometimes, waiting is the smartest action you can take.

Feedback and Continuous Improvement

The design thinking process is a lot like baking a cake. You need to have all the right ingredients, follow a recipe, and then put it all together and see how it turns out. Feedback is the key to making sure your cake turns out delicious. Impactful feedback will help you understand what went right or wrong and what changes you need to make for next time.

Design thinking

Questioning Mindset

Leaders who practice design thinking see situations with a questioning mindset. By constantly asking “Why?” and “What if?” they can focus and inspire change. Design thinkers understand that it is vital to see the purpose and direction clearly in a turbulent landscape.

Collaboration and Facilitation

Design thinking leaders facilitate dialogue, ideation, and decision-making, whether face to face or online. This allows team members to do their best work by pooling their creativity and knowledge. When it comes to design thinking, two heads are better than one!

Customer Centricity

Design thinking leaders always keep the customer in mind. They work to create a culture within the customer-centric organization. Buurtzorg is a great example of a self-organized, lean company that puts the customer first in everything they do.


Design Thinking leaders are a lot like good coaches. They help individuals and teams grow by fostering crucial conversations, asking powerful questions and removing barriers to success. Coaching involves helping people find their answers in a safe environment.

Change Management

Design thinking leaders can balance abstract ideas with tangible results. They understand that it’s important to prototype and test new concepts quickly, and they also know that sometimes the best way to move forward is to focus on the “low-hanging fruit” first. This means taking small, practical steps to implement an idea rather than getting bogged down in details or trying to do too much at once.