Design Thinking

How Design Thinking Helps Solve Complex Challenges

In today’s technology-driven world, one thing is sure: There’s no such thing as “business as usual.”

Before the internet, business strategy tended to follow a traditional, straightforward process that included analyzing data to identify challenges and solutions. Business managers studied dizzying printouts of P&Ls and market data. They sat around conference room tables talking about all the usual suspects they learned about in business school. Maybe they held a focus group or sent out surveys. Then they let all that data point them toward the likeliest culprit and devoted resources to the most effective solution.  Many companies went belly up that way. Just ask Blockbuster, Kodak, and hundreds of dot coms you’ve never heard of.

Many of these traditional approaches are outdated in the 21st century. The only constants are change and complexity. Customers are in control, and their wants and needs are ever-changing. Companies that don’t innovate or change to meet and exceed customer needs and expectations risk disruption or obsolescence.

These disruptions come in all shapes and sizes. They range from systemic issues like sustainability and inclusion initiatives to more specific challenges, such as products that don’t address the needs of customers. To truly solve problems in today’s business landscape, organizations must think in a new way; leaders and employees need different processes and approaches to strategy and innovation. The answers to complex problems don’t lie in spreadsheets or business modeling. Complex problems aren’t puzzles to be solved with more information, and with most, there is no direct path to a solution.