Design thinking & Innovation a great career option

Article by Dr Sanjay Dhande, Chief Mentor, Avantika University, Ujjain

Design Thinking as a concept is prevalent across the world today for its practical problem- solving techniques using design principles. Over the past decade, we have seen an increasing number of companies getting benefited from this approach to innovation. Design Thinking applies the methodologies of design to solve challenges in businesses and societies- which makes it central to innovation and creativity. It has led to the creation of the most innovative, successful services and products around us.

 Innovative Thinking approach Involves Empathy for Target:  The actual transformation of design thought into the process is driven by design thinking principles. Based on a fundamental belief that doing is as valuable as thinking.  The design has the potential to unravel new opportunities in the ideation and creation of new products. It helps identify and define the latent needs of consumers. Design thinking as an approach attempts to inspire the essential element of creativity, by creating excellent solutions considering an abstract idea. A greater emphasis on a Design Thinking approach involves empathy for the target for whom you are creating solutions. Often manifested by a series of activities, it is an attempt to create an experience of what or how the idea will be perceived ultimately.

 Craftsmanship and Aesthetics are the most perceptible aspects: Though it is not all about design. A paradigm shift is essential in the way we look at design related approach. Excellent craftsmanship and aesthetics are the most perceptible aspects towards the influence of design. A systematic approach to innovation and creative problem-solving that is applicable across a variety of disciplines. With pre-emptive and anticipatory thinking designers visualise host of possible opportunities that appeal to users. It is the genesis of a better product through empathy for the consumers. With a greater attention and focus for merging creativity and innovation, we need to develop a design-led approach.  The future of product and service companies will be to address and anticipate problems better by creating robust systems and processes incorporating design thinking principles at a root-level.

 Strategic initiatives and large scale transformation: Design Thinking is gaining a greater prominence in India as well, with its capability of breaking the stereotypes for future development. We have witnessed its implementation for strategic initiatives and large scale transformation. With India, known for its diversity in-turn creates a perfect platform to rethink design for the Indian context. There have been instances of localising the design thinking context of certain products to fit our cultural stigma. With a far greater attention to design, it applies to a variety of concepts from kitchen planning to food habits, town to public infrastructure planning and its impact on the lifestyle.

 360 Degree Rethinking: To be seen as a design-driven nation our approach requires a 360-degree rethink. By bringing design elements into the university phase of learning, we can inculcate the pivotal role of design in every aspect of human life. The intuitive experience of this process will help get a deep dive into people and their lifestyle preferences for future. The idea should be to create an enterprise social network that includes all stakeholders, combined with a suite of tools, methods, and processes. For India, a government supported ecosystem will spearhead the growth of design thinking principles. Also, a holistic policy framework will further establish innovative and design based thinking.

Future Outlook: 

The university education of today is dominated by vertical-specific specialisations with a little or abstract connect with the real world.  Between various disciplines, the core emphasis is on the development of knowledge resources and capabilities within that specific domain. We certainly have great talent, but they are mostly problem managers and not the problem solvers. Our conventional system is certainly missing out on solving real world problems and exploring the emerging opportunities. We need to collaborate and brainstorm our interdisciplinary attitudes and abilities to realise the innovative possibilities for future.

It is at this juncture the educators across disciplines must look-up to design thinking, in order to bring out that balance for the various domains of specialisation, with new attitudes and capabilities within an educational and university set-up. For an optimum success, the focus should be on incorporating design thinking into our education processes right at an inception phase. As a module, this concept should be introduced in the foundation course for the next generation.

Design Thinking, based pedagogy will help students develop insights from multiple perspectives, and it will give them the precise flair to solve real-world problems based on critical thinking and analytical skills. The time has come to take the design to mainstream education to help future professionals solve problems successfully by applying innovative ways. A repositioning for design as a discipline is required, as advisors, mentors, and coaches. Possibilities are many to unleash the power of design thinking to demystify any and every professional endeavour.

There is a need to unshackle design and make the effort to propagate its influence by applying design thinking to all walks of life, thus making it instrumental in driving future change.