top of page

Design Thinking – A framework For Innovation

Ambreen Nadeem is an Industrial Psychologist with more than 15+ years of experience in Marketing Research. She has diverse experience in Market Research Analyses, Client Relationships, Project Management, and Leadership in top multinational companies, both at the agency and client-side. GEH INHOUSE EXPERT

Innovation is crucial for business growth. A business can not survive without innovating continuously. It has been observed time and again that no matter how good branding is done, no matter how immaculate the supply chain is maintained. If a company fails to innovate, likely, it is not sustainable in the long run.

Several businesses have witnessed a downfall, which stopped innovating. For instance, Kodak – once a market leader, dominated the photographic film market in the 90s. Their resistance to adopting technological advancements puts them at a disadvantage. Eventually, they were swept out of the market by the ones who were fast enough to adopt the technology—similarly, Nokia – One of the highly successful companies. However, Nokia overestimated the strength of its brand and was not quick enough to move to smartphones. Apple introduced iPhone, a phone without a keyboard, which was revolutionary at the time.

“Innovation is the fuel for growth, when a

company runs out of innovation, it runs out of growth.”

– Gary Hammel

Why innovations are important?

Innovations are essential to growth because it keeps the target audience engaged and thrilled. Consumers’ needs are constantly changing over time, and companies that can walk along with their consumers are always well appreciated. In contrast, those who get disconnected from their consumers are often left behind. Innovations also provide companies an edge to expand their market scope and penetrate the markets faster.

According to studies, 60% to 80% of innovations fail. Coming up with successful innovation is not an easy task. However, creativity and innovations skills are not only restricted to geniuses only. Successful innovation can be conceived by anyone with the right tools and processes. The right innovative techniques can help you save a great deal of time and money and giving a competitive lead to the growing business. Design thinking is an effective process that leads to design successful innovations.

What is Design Thinking

Design thinking is a meticulously designed process to gather the information that transforms it into insights. It is a process to think out of the box. It is based on a human-centric approach that channels thoughts to follow that route that can open new horizons to explore new and untapped ideas. It aims to guide the thought process to simply think out-of-the-box. Another main feature of design thinking is that it encourages collaboration from multi-disciplinary functions of an organization to work together to dig deeper insight towards finding the solution. It encourages creative ways to find solutions of the problem at hand (Fig#1-1)

Design Thinking Framework

There are 5 stages in Design Thinking framework as per the below figure (Fig 1-2)

Phase 1: Empathize

This is the first stage of Design Thinking. At this stage, we have to form a complete picture of a consumer as a human. Consumers do not only consume a product in isolation. There is a complex process of decision-making involved in deciding to purchase any product. Empathy is the mental habit that moves us beyond thinking of people as laboratory rats or standard deviations. Suppose we are to “borrow” the lives of other people to inspire new ideas. In that case, we need to begin by recognizing that their seemingly inexplicable behaviors represent different strategies for coping with the confusing, complex, and contradictory world in which they live[i]. At this stage, we look for the insights that give us clues to solve the problem of our consumers. Insight is a simple lesson we learn from the lives of others. Insight is one of the key sources of design thinking, and it does not usually come from the piles of researches and data. We have to dig further to find out what we already know[ii].

Phase 2: Define

“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

– Eugene Ionesco (i )

Asking the right question leads to the right answer. The define mode is the stage when we unload our empathy findings and transform them into insights and scope a meaningful challenge ii . At this stage, we synthesize all the learnings that we gained from the empathy stage. The question at hand is defined to seek answers.

Phase 3: Ideate

At this phase, the focus is on generating ideas to offer a solution to the problem. It is the creative way to come up with several ideas without any judgment or barring them with any limitations. At this stage, everyone is pushed to expand their horizons of thinking.

“It’s not about coming up with the ‘right’ idea,

it’s about generating the broadest range of possibilities.” iii

There are numbers of ways to generate ideas such as Brain storming, Brain walk, SCAMPER and etc.

Phase 4: Prototype

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then

a prototype is worth a thousand meetings.” iv

Prototyping is all about giving shape to ideas and making it tangible. Prototypes are a quick reality check. It allows to redesign the idea and make initial improvements. Starting with a low fidelity prototype is better, as it can give cues to enhance at the early stage. It is way better to fail fast at the beginning of the journey than realizing the flaws halfway or close to reaching to the goal.

According to Tim Brown, the more “finished” a prototype is, the less likely you will welcome and want to act on constructive feedback. Therefore, sharing raw representations of what you are building should start early in the life of a project .

Phase 5: Test

At this stage, all of the proposed solutions are tested out in real-life scenario. It is better to rectify the product before launching it rather than keep building it further on an erroneous foundation. This is the final stage, but the team can always revisit the process in order to adjust or refine the product or services.

Design thinking is the process that guides the team to come up with creative ideas. So always keep yourself flexible to adjust the changes and add creativity to the process to make it more effective.

Ambreen Nadeem is an Industrial Psychologist with more than 15+ years of experience in Marketing Research. She has diverse experience in Market Research Analyses, Client Relationships, Project Management, and Leadership in top multinational companies, both at the agency and client-side. She has been managing major projects for blue-chip clients in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, she advocates for mental health and spreads the knowledge of Psychology and Mental Health through her podcasts, live shows, workshops, and blogs.


ii Scott Doorley, Sarah Holcomb, Perry Klebahn, Kathryn Segovia, and Jeremy Utley. (2018) Design Thinking Botleg. Stanford University

iv Sidneyeve Matrix,(2018) Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, v Tim Brown, (2011) "Change by Design" Wiley Online Librar

144 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page