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Design Thinking

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What you will get from this article:

  1. What is Design Thinking?

  2. What makes design thinking so different and popular these days?

  3. How can we utilize this method to create a positive impact?

  4. SDGs & Design Thinking


What is Design Thinking?

The term “Design Thinking” has gained tremendous popularity for the past few years; universities, startups, incubators, even corporates are promoting the use of design thinking to address a wide range of challenges and tasks we faced. But what is it exactly? And what makes it so unique?

“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.”

— Time Brown, ex-CEO of IDEO

Long story short, design thinking possesses a human-centric core that aims to spur different possibilities based on fundamental human needs. It’s not a unilateral thinking method that only emphasizes either what people want, what technologies can achieve, or whether it can be part of a sustainable business model. Design thinking takes into account these three factors and tries to solve some wicked problems that can hardly be approached by scientific methods that we usually use.

The Institute of Design at Stanford, the so-called, has summarized the following 5 steps for Design Thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

This frequently used framework is highly contextual and should be carried out in an iterative process. Taking you through the depth and fundamentals of this short post would, therefore, do it an injustice. RaiseV offers a wide range of capability development programs to takes you through the framework and assist you to solve the root problem of your company or innovation opportunity. To learn more about those programs and modules visit


What Makes Design Thinking Important?

In recent years, how to innovate has been an important topic. While innovation is a process that starts from zero; how to start, how to implement, and how to evaluate the results become vital. People and organizations need guidelines and structure to follow to create innovation. Furthermore, companies are often so focused on coming up with a new product or service that they completely forget to put the end-users first.

Even though Design Thinking is not the only way to innovate; still, it’s an efficient and client-centric method that can assist the process. When working with our corporate clients or startups, we’ve noticed that the trend of digital transformation and the introduction of new technologies encourage companies of all sizes to develop new methods or thinking patterns to increase the growth momentum inside the organization and to remain market competitiveness.

Echoed with IBM founder Thomas Watson, “Good design is good business.” International top-tier companies such as Apple, Starbucks, Ford, Coca-Cola demonstrates how design-centric products can successfully win end-users’ trust and favors; and directly enhance financial performance and brand images. This proposition has also been confirmed by the Design Management Institute (DMI).


SDGs & Design Thinking

Since one of the goals of Design Thinking is to develop creative ideas that are user-relevant and seek resolutions that could create a positive impact. The Design Thinking Guide from UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) has stated that:

Adopting a human-centered approach is believing that all problems -as difficult to eradicate as they may seem- such as poverty, gender equality, and access to clean water, can still be solved.

While achieving the SDGs can not be done solely by an organization or corporation, these groups of people can still do their best to avoid the wastes of the huge sum of money and resources for those poorly designed solutions and products.

An article “The Role Design Thinking Plays In Sustainability“ from A&A offers some suggesting questions for design thinkers to ask themselves when embracing the SDGs throughout the process:

  • How can sustainability be measured?

  • Does the project contribute to a future that addresses human needs?

  • Is the goal or purpose of the project centered around a positive existence for humans and their environment?

  • What can I do to help my world become more sustainable as a designer?



Everything has its pros and cons, and design thinking is no exception. It starts with the user’s needs and receives feedback at each and every step of the process. It also involves thinking of a solution to a long-term problem instead of the one up-front, which is what analytical thinking does. On the contrary, it also brings up the criticisms for oversimplifying the design process and trivializing the role of technical knowledge and skills.

Regardless of some minor debates over Design Thinking; still, it is one of the most sought after and used models across companies nowadays. During our consultancy projects, we’ve always encouraged our client companies to think beyond the method they use to reach the results; rather, to emphasize on whether the final results and value are plausible and satisfying. Further with a bigger ambition, whether it can create a positive impact and approach the SDGs one way or another.


For more information on corporate innovation programs, startup capability modules or social entrepreneurship contact us for a free consultation.

Lastly, if this blog post stirred up your interest to learn more about Design Thinking, you can’t miss this TED Talk given by Tim Brown in 2009!

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