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Design Thinking – A Critical Skill for Leadership That You Can No Longer Ignore

In a world that is rapidly changing and technology being at the forefront of this storm, and everything being digitized, skill sets are also changing. If we cannot keep up and cope up with the changing dynamic we are going to be left behind. 

 With business changing their entire outlook on the way of working we see changes in every aspect of operations. Workplace trainings are given more importance, we skills and trainings are developed to shape the future leaders in the organization and an overall importance on soft skill training is the need of the hour today.

Design thinking is the way of future work design and this is going to be a top skill for the future. 

The way forward is being equipped and skilled to deal with the future, here design thinking comes into play. One of the important soft skills to have is design thinking as it is going to be the top skill for the future. 

What is design thinking? 

Design thinking initially comes from the world of design for products and services and is defined as: “combining empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context.”

Design thinking is a creative and innovative way for problem solving. It is a way of thinking, creating and innovating that keeps the user the center of everything. It is rooted in requiring  a deep understanding of people and their needs. It requires an understanding and exploring the audience for whom the product is what are their needs. 

All businesses are now moving towards having their workplace training manuals to have a course in design thinking and slowly it is becoming the top skills to have for the future. 

Design thinking is a solution-based technique to resolve problems. It involves a thorough understanding of people for whom the product is going to designed for. Sometimes offering a straightforward solution is not the way out, you need to dig deeper, relearn everything you know and creative alternative solutions is going to be the way forward.

While technology, digitization, automation and machine learning are all well good, the way forward for employees is going to work on their soft skills and this will determine your success. Digital thinking is going to be the top skill in the future if you are looking for a leadership position. 

Phases of design thinking 

Empathize- conduct research 

Design thinking is a human centric approach to find creative solutions to problems. When a product is made it is targeted at a particular audience, understanding this audience, what the socio-economic background is what they value and what the need are of utmost importance. 

At the foundation of critical thinking is understanding and decoding the user. Studying data is all well and good, but until you do not understand how your users feel, what motivates them and their reasoning in accepting or rejecting a product you will never get the desired results. 

Observe, engage and immerse yourself with your audience. Setting aside your assumptions is pivotal to a gaining a real insight. 

Define – outline the problem 

You have gathered the data , you have done the ground work. Analyze the data, identify the problem, and then brainstorm work with what you have to create a solution for the customer. 

Define the problem from the customer’s perspective and then create original, unique solutions and products to  deliver to your target audience. Always have a human centric approach to tackle these problems. 

IdeateCreate new ideas discard assumptions 

This is an important aspect, you will be working in a way where you will have to discard old assumptions, make room for new ideas and always test them, hear them out, before rejecting and discarding them. It is important to keep an open mind while brainstorming for ideas. You have the knowledge; it is time to think out of the box and identify innovative solutions. 


You have identified the problem, discussed ideas, now comes the execution of it. You need to validate and verify the ideas and validate them. The prototypes can be shared amongst the team or some of the end users. By using the prototypes to validate the ideas, you can improvise, reexamine, investigate, reject what works and what does not. 

By this stage you will understand what the problems are, what is stopping from the product being fully functional and what is the weakness to work on that needs to be eliminated.  The prototype does not have to be fancy and expensive.


After ideating , testing various types of prototype to check what works and what does not you have a working product. You then will test these with a group of users for whom the product has been designed for. The data collected from this will be added to your final design, eliminate what does not work. 

Here you will get a fairly clear idea of what the product is going to look like , what features it will have and how the users feel about the product. 

Prototypes will need to be revised and you will have many versions of it before the final version is put together. Be agile with your thinking and test out various versions. Do not compromise on this stage as it will take away from all the work you out in to reach this stage. 

The future of work design, an important quality for leadership roles and the top skills in employees, businesses are looking for is design thinking.

Benefits of having a design thinking approach


Today businesses and their functionalities need to collaborate, synchronize and involve the participation of all employees.  When employees feel an integral part of the decision-making process they are motivated to do better, think outside the box and the business does nit limit itself to only looking at a problem from one perspective. 


When collaboration happens , employees come together to test ideas, to brainstorm to come up with newer and better products to serve their customers better. Regularly testing of ideas can help businesses get breakthroughs and implement better ways of functioning. 

Combating creative challenges 

Design thinking helps you to find out of the box solutions, it helps you change perspective, find newer and efficient way of handling problems and expand your knowledge. This in turn leads to you making sure the end users get enhanced experience of the products and deliver the best to your customers.

It provides a challenge to your employees and allows them to come up with different creative solutions to tackle challenges.

User Focused 

Today the business are laser focused on the end user, data collected,  analyzed and studied is also based on user groups who will use the end product. Products are designed to serve the needs and wants of the end user. 

This in turn makes sure your product is designed to give your target audience what they are looking for, hence increasing their loyalty towards your brand.   

Wrapping it up

With a dynamic and ever evolving business landscape, you need to step up, go above and beyond to survive in the competitive structure as a leader. And design thinking is one of those skills that help you drive massive growth for the organization and generate positive impact. 

If you want to grow into leadership and management roles, design thinking is one of the critical skills you need in your bag. The Hero Vired Certificate Program in Strategic Management and Business Essentials includes dedicated moduels on design thinkign and leadership building that will help you leverage your skills and take that next step in your career. 

The program is offered in partnership with INSEAD, the #1 B-School in the world in 2021. Not only will you learn with live online classes with international faculty, you will also learn through immersive business simulations and lively discussion with fellow peers. 

The program covers all the core principles of leadership and management and will help you be ready for careers leading teams and organizations from the forefront.

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